Making the most of bulbs this autumn

banner-claire-laker-inspects-one-of-thousands-of-bulbs-set-to-fly-off-the-shelves-at-wyevale-garden-centres-this-weekend-landscapeAs autumn approaches and the daylight hours shorten, tending to the garden at this time of year may not be a priority for many people. However, the bulbing season is nearly upon us and now is the time to consider the best bulbs for a Christmas bloom and how to put your bulbs to bed early read for a stunning spring and summer display.

Wyevale Garden Centres has some timely advice and inspirational ideas to get you started with your planning and bulb planting and we hope that their advice (below) will help motivate you to get out in the garden and get planting.


Winter can be a gloomy and dull time of the year so why not inject a little colour into your life with two of the most vibrant plants that will bloom around the Christmas period if planted now:


Hyacinths (in dark blue, white or red/pink)
Narcissus (white, cream, yellow and white with a yellow cup)

Whether you want to ensure your house is best dressed for the festive season or you’re growing for gifting nurture your potted plants with Wyevale Garden Centres top tips:


Plant Hyacinth bulbs every two weeks from the beginning of September until mid- October to provide a variety of fragrant blooms

1. For best results, half fill a bowl with bulb fibre or general multi compost and do not mix different varieties in one bowl
2. Place the bulbs on the surface (close enough but not touching) and fill around the bulbs with more compost up to 2cm below the rim of the bowl. Leave the tips of the bulbs showing and water
3. Leave the plant in a cool, dark place for 10 weeks (6 weeks if they are prepared bulbs) then bring the plant inside



Plant Narcissus in September to flower in time for Christmas. Choose interesting containers to grow them in to make great gifts for family and friends.

1. Place bulbs close together in containers filled with bulb fibre
2. Leave the tips of the bulbs protruding slightly above the bulb fibre and water well
3. Leave the bulbs in a dark, cool place for 3 – 8 weeks and water occasionally
4. Bring the bulbs inside once the shoots are 4-5cm tall
Inside the life of a bulb


Waiting for the shoots of a bulb to peep through the soil is one thing but watching a bulb fully bloom under water is even more exciting, especially for the kids. Growing Hyacinths and Narcissus in water and a clear vase can be fun for all the family. As the tiny shoots feel their way to the bottom of the vase and the flower shoots out of the top, this is a great way to see the full life cycle of a bulb.

Buy prepared bulbs and buy bulbs which are firm and have no signs of mould.

For best results buy a special forcing vase. It is possible to use a jam jar, but if the bulb is sitting in water it will rot. The hourglass shape of a forcing vase holds the bulb above the water, instead its roots go in search of the water.

Don’t forget to wear gloves when touching Hyacinth bulbs as they can irritate the skin.

Fill the vase with water just below the bulb but not touching it
Chill the Hyacinth bulb for 10 weeks in a cool, dark place (if you buy prepared bulbs, you only need to 
chill for 6 weeks as part of the chilling process has been done already)
After 6 – 10 weeks bring the bulb inside to the place where you want it to flower
For Narcissus, follow the above but you do not need to buy prepared Narcissus bulbs as they only 
require 3 – 8 weeks of chilling in a cool dark place



There’s no need for your pots and beds to stand empty over autumn. Lasagne planting using evergreens, winter bedding and bulbs is an easy way to enjoy flowers through Winter and Spring.
In lasagne planting, pots and beds are planted with alternate layers of bulbs, bedding plants and evergreens in compost. The biggest and latest flowering bulbs go in first, with layers of earlier flowering bulbs on top. Two layers of bulbs will give you a beautiful spring display but, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even go for three layers and add autumn bedding plants and evergreens at the top.

Wyevale Garden Centres top tips on combo planting and layered bulb planting:

Layered Bulb Planting
What: Layer different varieties of tulips in one container or a mix of Tulips, Hyacinths, Muscari, Crocus, Tulips and Narcissus

Your container needs to be as deep as the eventual height of your tallest bulb; width is not so important
The lowest level bulbs bend around anything above them and continue to grow, so make sure you plant all bulbs with space between one another.

Fill the bottom of the container with 10cm of compost, place your first layer of bulbs on top and cover with another layer of soil. Always place the largest and latest flowering bulb in first and the smallest and earliest at the top
Place the second layer of bulbs on top and another layer of compost. A third layer of bulbs and compost is optional (space dependent)
Once you have placed the final layer of compost, finish with some bedding to add instant colour. Sprinkle grit on top to help with slugs and water.

Combo planting in borders
What: Choose a variety of bulbs that flower at different times between January and May so you have a succession of colour

Aim to plant in groups of at least 6 if you want a good display. The more bulbs, the more impressive the display will be

Place the bulb in the hole with the nose of the bulb upwards (narrow end) and cover with soil. Space the bulbs twice the width of the bulb.

The recipe to bulb success is to think creatively. Don’t just stick to one type of bulb in one container, experiment with lots of colour, different heights and plants that flower at different times. Here are some hand selected collections to give maximum impact either in boarders or when planted in an array of pots. Plant single colours for a real style statement or mix to create your favourite combinations.


Create a sea of blue with:
Tulip Queen of the night, Hyacinths Delft blue, Muscari Armeniacum

Be bold and add a depth of colour with royal reds, royal blues and a dash of bright whites with:
Tulip (red riding hood), Muscari Armeniacum, Hyacinths Carnegie


Add a hint of hot pink to a bunch of blossoming whites with:

Tulip Purissima, Narcissus Thalia, Tulip Angelique

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