Best bulbs for spring and summer colour

Autumn is the time of year when we think about planting bulbs for spring and summer colour and so we asked Andy McIndoe, author, regular contributor to magazines, blogs and BBC Radio and a top tutor with to share his best bulbs for spring and summer colour.

Daffs and Narcissi – they’re remarkably forgiving and you can plant these anytime up to mid-winter.

If you plant late I’d still recommend planting three times depth of the bulb otherwise they’ll flower on short stems. Remember that the foliage can take until early summer to die down so either plant where you don’t need to mow or well back in the border where the foliage of perennials and shrubs will hide fading leaves. A further bonus is that they are deer and rabbit resistant.


Tulips – these are best planted from late autumn to mid-winter as then you can avoid early growth which results potential frost damage and tulip fire. Tulips can be planted in both pots and in the garden, they even look wonderful sprinkled through a wild flower meadow but they are a veritable feast for slugs so expect to have to top them up.

Alliums – great for adding a different flower form in the border. Their foliage dies down as flowers develop and looks tatty so it’s an idea to plant them among foliage shrubs and low perennials to disguise this. In my opinion the best of the bunch is Allium cristophii. It has wonderfully architectural long lasting flowers and fantastic seed heads that remain attractive until fall, they can even be dried and used in arrangements. Like daffs and narcissi they are also deer and rabbit resistant.

Lilies – you can plant them in both autumn and spring and still get flowers for summer but to ensure a well-established growth planting now is a good idea. Plant them on their sides to avoid water lodging in base of bulb which can cause rot.

If you would like to know more about bulbs – colour for pots and borders – take a look at Andy’s course on how to buy and plant a beautiful spring garden at

Photo credits: All photographs ©Andy McIndoe with the exception of lower middle Alliums ©