Autumn is nature’s time for planting and now is a great time to brave the chill and get active in the outside! This article will give you a full guide on which bulbs to plant in autumn, the best way to plant your autumn bulbs and how to keep your spring flowering bulbs warm.
What do I need to know about autumn bulbs?
Most autumn bulbs are available as loose dried bulbs or in single and mixed packs of dried bulbs. At Ruxley we always have an extensive range of autumn bulbs for to buy and enjoy – as well as container and bulb packs to make life a little easier!
Spring flowering bulbs, such as daffodils, hyacinths and crocus and tulips are best planted throughout September to November – with crocus being later in that time period. Alliums, crocosmia and lilies are hardy bubs and will flower later in spring and early summer.
Bulbs are easy to plant and usually need little maintenance throughout the autumn and winter months. You will need a garden trowel to dig your planting areas and, depending on how hard your soil is, a hand fork can make your life a lot easier!
Where do I plant my autumn bulbs?
You will need to find areas in your garden that mimic the natural habitat of your chosen bulbs. For example, daffodil bulbs and tulip bulbs are native to areas with dry summer climates so a sunny spot in the garden with good drainage will help these bulbs thrive.
Other bulbs, such as bluebells and Cardiocrinum are from woodland habitats – so cool, moist areas with heavy soils are best. If you have light or sandy soil you can fortify this with some heavier garden compost and grit available in store at Ruxley Manor.
What do I need to know before planting my autumn bulbs?
Once your planting areas are chosen and the soil fortified and prepared if need be, check that there are no shallow rocks or large stones within 6-8 inches of the top of your soil. Turning the soil or compost to loosen it up is best practice and will help you remove any debris that may limit your autumn bulbs growth.
Check all of your bulbs before planting for signs of deterioration. If any of your bulbs are soft discard them and check each autumn bulb thoroughly for signs of rot.
How do I plant my autumn bulbs?
Your bulbs packs will come with planting instructions, most autumn bulbs are simple to plant and follow the general rules but always double check the instructions on your pack. If you’re buying loose bulbs you can ask one of our Plant Experts in our Outdoor Plant Department for advice on specific bulbs varieties.
The most important thing you need to know when planting is which way is up. Remember, garlic and onions are both bulbs, and you’ll want to plant your bulbs with ‘sprouting’ side up. This is where your onions or garlic will begin to grow if you haven’t eaten them quickly enough! It is generally the pointy end of the bulb that needs to be on top.
However, not all bulbs are perfectly shaped – if you have a slightly wonky autumn bulb and can’t tell which end is up, plant your autumn bulb horizontally. The hormones in your spring flowering bulb will be able to sense gravity and will grow against it.
How deep do I plant autumn bulbs?
As a general rule of thumb, most bulbs should be planted at two to three times the depth of the bulb. For example, if a bulb is 2 inches high, plant the bulb in a hole 4-6 inches deep facing up. If you are buying bulbs in a packet, this information should be covered in the planting instructions. If you’re buying loose bulbs, check in with our Plant Experts who will be more than happy to advise or continue reading for a general guide. Then cover with your soil or compost and tamp down gently – compacting the soil too much will inhibit root growth and cause issues for the sprout reaching the open air.
If it’s dry out, sprinkle some water over your newly planted area and again whenever the area looks too dry between rainfall.
How do I plant bulbs in containers?
If you want to make a display of your bulbs to bring some strong spring flowering colour to your garden or patio it is important to remember that depth, spacing and the correct compost are the most important things to remember.
On your bulb packet there should be information about how to plant your bulb and at what depth your bulb will best thrive. We’ve created a general graphic below for guidance – but please do refer to your bulb packs instructions.
Compost is the next most important thing, as previously mentioned in the article different bulbs require different kinds of soils and compost. If you would like to mix and match and good multi-purpose compost should cover the needs for all your bulbs, however, if all the bulbs in your container require the same time of soil more specific composts are available from our Compost Department. Fish, Blood & Bone fertiliser is always a good addition to fortify the nutrient content of your growing media for your autumn bulbs.
Layering your bulbs at different depths is key, this is usually referred to as lasagne planting. Measure the depth of your container and work out at which levels your bulbs need to be planted. Then carefully fill your container with your chosen compost until the point of your deepest bulbs. Place them ‘pointy’ side up, cover and gently tamp. Then repeat for each bulb variety until you’ve filled your container.
Water your containers regularly to ensure your autumn bulbs in the lower levels of your lasagne receive plenty of water throughout autumn and winter. With a good compost you shouldn’t need to add extra nutrients to your soil, however, if you would like to give your autumn bulbs a little bit extra you can add a high potassium fertiliser every ten days or so once sprouts begin to appear – a liquid tomato feed does just fine!