Bulbs 101 – your guide to sowing and growing

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DIY and how-to

Like many of us, tender flower bulbs don’t like the cold. They thrive in the long, sweltering days of summer, so plant your tender bulbs this spring for a burst of colour in your summer garden. Follow our simple, step-by-step guide on how to plant and grow summer-blooming bulbs. 

What bulbs to plant now

  • Dahlia
  • Gladiolus
  • Tuberous begonia
  • Amaryllis
  • Calla lily 
  • Hemerocallis

PLAN BEFORE YOU PLANT

Your bulbs might not look like much now, but come summer, they’ll flower into vivid colours. Think about how those colours will blend with their surroundings. You can even plant bulbs in clusters or shapes for greater visual impact. 

How to plant bulbs in 5 steps: 

  • Before you start planting bulbs, make sure your soil is cool and well drained. The best soil for flower bulbs is sandy loam. 
  • If you need to add nutrients to your soil, you can loosen it and mix in bonemeal
  • Dig a hole deep enough to plant the bulbs. If you’re not sure how deep to plant bulbs, the rule of thumb is to plant the bulb 2 to 3 times as deep as the bulb is tall. If in doubt, rather plant them too deep as opposed to too shallow.
  • Place the flower bulbs in the hole with the pointy end up and the roots down. If you can’t tell the top from the bottom, just plant the flower bulb on its side. The flowers will find their way to the surface. 

3 important ways to take care of your summer-blooming bulbs

WATERING

Newly planted bulbs need to be watered well to get settled in. If you’re not sure how often to water bulbs after planting, you can feel the soil to determine if it needs to be watered. But generally it’s best to water deeply every 4-5 days.

FEEDING

To encourage growth, feed your summer flowering bulbs with a handful of organic fertiliser every two weeks after planting. Once the first shoots start to appear, feed the plants with bulb food once every two weeks.

MULCHING

Mulching bulbs keeps the soil moist, prevents weeds from germinating and protects your bulbs when temperatures start to drop. In winter, cover the bulbs with an even layer of mulch, about 5–7cm thick, as required.

Looking for more inspiration before you start planting? Read more bulb guides below: