You can expect to see the first snowdrops around the third week in January
I was contacted during the week with an interesting question from a reader. They asked- is it too early to be planting spring flowering bulbs? The answer is no. I have noticed that some of the supermarkets are already selling flower bulbs and this is no harm. These bulbs will only recently have been dug out of the ground in places like Scotland for daffodils and Holland for tulips. For every week the bulbs are out of the ground they lose a bit of their vitality.
At our house we have dozens of flower bulbs already bought. Our plan is to wait for at least a few weeks and then plant them throughout the garden. The reason we are waiting is because we still have a lot of colour and activity going on in the garden. We still have our asters to come into flower. These will be the last plant to flower in our garden for this calendar year. We will store the bulbs in a cool, dry place- a garage is ideal. If the bulbs are stored in a sunny or warm rule the bulbs will dry out and die. The bulbs can be planted any time between now and Christmas. That gives you fifteen weeks to get them planted.
Each year for the past four years we have planted hundreds of bulbs for each year. We have planted so many bulbs for a few reasons. They are not very expensive, they add colour to the garden and they are something to look forward to in the spring. The varieties we have planted are many but we do have a lot of the old favourites-Snowdrop, Hyacinth, Daffodil and Tulips.
There are some simple planting rules for all spring flowering bulbs. Plant the bulb at a depth that is twice the height of the bulb. For instance, if the bulb is four centimetres tall then ensure there is eight centimetres of soil on top of the bulb when planted. Another rule is to not plant bulbs into wet or soggy ground as this will cause the bulbs to eventually rot. If you are planting expensive bulbs (Imperial Fritillaria, Fox Tail Lilies) then you may consider adding horticultural grit to the planning hole. This will mean they are less likely to rot due to excess water.
These are probably still the most popular spring flowering bulb planted each year. They flower every year and are available in an ever-increasing variety of colours. We have planted daffodils last year just so they can be cut and brought in-doors as cut flowers.
Tulips are another very popular flower bulb. But a major difference with daffodils is that they not keep flowering year after year. Tulip bulbs only flower for a couple of years. After this you may consider replacing them. As with daffodils, they are available in an ever-increasing variety of colours.
These are the first bulbs to flower each year. You can expect to see the first flowers around the third week in January. The bulbs can be expensive to purchase, especially the ‘double’ varieties. Again, when planting, follow the basic planting rules and you will be rewarded with years of colour!