The Bulb Diary

Ok, so, first things first, this mornings post isn’t going to be everybody reading’s cup of tea. If I’m honest, (and a few people will attest to this after I bent their ears!) my biggest fear with Florence Finds was that it’s diversity would be it’s downfall. I worried that fashionable types might not be interested in (or indeed lucky enough to have) a garden, or that DIY queens and interiors fanatics may not want to hear about make-up.

Actually I should be ashamed of myself for stereotyping women… I am this diverse, why shouldn’t the rest of you be?

So before we get started, this is a plea, if ever you don’t really fancy something I’ve posted, it’s only a few hours away from being something new and I will always try to vary the content, so please come back!

This post was inspired by 2 things. Firstly, my friend Jess bought some spring bulbs recently to plant in her new garden and amongst them were some tulips, which she planned to plant immediately. This was the end of September and it occurred to me that perhaps not everybody knew that Tulips are in fact planted in November. Secondly, the lovely Eliza Claire specifically requested some gardening tips, as have a few others of you and this is seasonal, so lets get started.

The first thing you need to know is that (although I’m about to tell you something to the contrary,) gardening is not science and should just be about enjoying your efforts. So if you buy various bulbs and just bung them in whenever, they will grow, do not fear! You might get a few popping up at unexpected times but come the next spring they will have reset themselves and be just fine.

However, if you’re going to go to all that trouble, this post is to help you get the best out of them. Planting things when they should be planted and the proper way, gives them the best start possible and you the prettiest flowers announcing the arrival of spring. Like I said, there are no rules, so just consider these ‘tips’. πŸ™‚

Tip Number 1.
Most bulbs you buy will have instructions but when you get around to planting your bulbs, the way you do it is quite important… possibly the most important thing. As a rough rule of thumb, each bulb should be planted at double to three times their own depth. So small bulbs like crocuses or snowdrops don’t need to go in so deep, and bigger ones like daffodils and tulips need quite a bit more depth.

If you plant them too shallowly they will come up early and won’t get their roots in to stop them blowing over in spring gales and too deep and they won’t be reach out of the soil, but there’s less danger of that.

Tip Number 2.
Plant them the right way up! Most bulbs are quite obvious in their shape… look at the bulb and you’ll see they have a ‘pointier’ end (you might even be able to see remnants of the dried up leaves or new shoots poking through) and a flatter end (again where you will possibly see dried roots.) It’s easy, plant them nose up or they will have great difficulty reaching the surface. If you’re really not sure which is up and down, go sideways and they should still come up!

Tip Number 3.
Plant them at the right time… here’s a rough guide, think about the time of year they flower and count backwards. Early flowering bulbs like snowdrops and crocus need to go in earlier and tulips later, which can flower right into may and June.
September-October = Snowdrops, Crocus, Hyacinths
November-December = Tulips
Daffodils can go in as early as August/September (I know, I’m a little late writing this, but bung them in anyway!)

Lastly… Dig the right hole. Dig a wide hole and plant several bulbs at once to create ‘drifts’ of colour. To get them looking really natural plant in groups of odd numbers and plant them where they fall when you drop a handful rather than spacing them equally. Make sure the bottom of the bulb is in contact with the soil rather than wedged down a hole with an air bubble beneath, and water them in after putting the soil back, taking care not to knock them over.

So that’s it. An idiots guide to planting bulbs and growing your own beautiful spring display. And if you don’t have a garden, try it in pots, you can even grown them indoors πŸ™‚

Are you working on your green fingers?


Image Credits R-L from top: (All found via Pinterest)
Snowdrops in Vase and Hyacinths in tin cans;
Grape Hyacinth mood board and Hyacinth bulbs;
Crocus Bulbs;
Crocus teacup and Rustic Table setting;
White Tulips

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29 thoughts on “The Bulb Diary

  1. Really love this post Rebecca. Tulips are amongst my favourite flowers and you have inspired me to get down to the garden centre! I frigin love this blog!! X

  2. Love this post! We’ve just moved into our new house, and we have a massive garden which needs tons and tons of work. We won’t do most of it until next year, but I really wanted to plant a few bulbs so I can look at some pretty flowers from the kitchen as I wash up! am going to treat myself to some pots and some bulbs x

  3. So excited about the gardening posts Rebecca! In fact, when you left RMW one of my first thoughts was “But I want to see how her allotment is getting on…” Whilst I’m trying in my garden I evidently need more tips, I bunged all my daffodils and tulips in together last week and am almost certain that the holes I dug for the daffodils are too shallow…

    • Hi Emma!

      Don’t worry, you don’t need to dig them up! πŸ™‚ The majority of plants do very well all by themselves, bulbs included, but if you think they came up to early or would benefit from being a bit deeper and more stability from March winds, dig them up after flowering in Spring and replant them a bit deeper then. πŸ™‚


  4. I’m loving this post! Loving FF! Have never had particularly green fingers before but I think that’s because I thought it was too difficult… you’ve inspired me, going to get planting this weekend! Thank you! xx

    • This is how I feel too – I’m useless in the garden, but when Rebecca mentioned that she had an allotment, I just HAD to ask her to blog about gardening. She’s inspired me to get some bulbs too – maybe by Spring, my garden will look pretty rather than being a desolate grassy mud patch as it is now… Thanks, Rebecca xx

  5. Ooo, I’m so glad there will be gardening posts as I loves a bit of bulb-ing I do! In fact I have a green fingers related question – when is the best time to plant tomato(s)? Is that the right turn of phrase?! We have a little veg patch that we have kept esp for, erm, veg, and I really want to grow some tomatoes. Or courgettes. Or potatoes. Or anything edible really!


  6. Love this post, thanks Rebecca. I’ve just pulled up the last of our summer veg in our little patch, and wondering what winter veg I can plant? Or am I too late? Or is this a WHOLE other post?!

    • Linsey (and Mahj)

      Veggies are a whole different ball game…!

      I’ll be covering veg as it becomes seasonal but will have a think about winter veg too. Alll the things you mentioned Mahj are spring/summer jobbies πŸ™‚


  7. I have garden envy! More pots posts please (especially herbs/veggies!). We tried to grow spring onions in a grow bag, but they completely failed. Our back yard is North facing and overshadowed by other houses so we really struggle to get anything going.


  8. Great post Rebecca! We have quite a big garden and I have no green fingers whatsoever! I would never think to plant tulip bulbs in November! But that is just what I’m going to do!!


  9. Love a bit of gardening advice! We moved into our house last year and our garden is a constant source of frustration even though we love it! We had high hopes to put some decking down this year but it just didn’t happen and we really need to sort out the planting now. We did dig all the borders in the front garden and planted a couple of trees a few months ago but it’s now full of weeds again!  However the other half did do some clearing this weekend – here’s a pic

    You have inspired me to get planting !! I definitely want some flowers next spring and I love tulips! Xo

  10. Perfectly timed post! I can’t claim green fingers, but I’d really love to. I’m going home this weekend to plant some bulbs with my dad, *hopefully* to be used at my Easter wedding. Thanks to this post my dear Dad can save some patience in explaining things to me!

  11. I thought I had missed the boat for planting tulips this year, it’s great to know November is actually when they’re supposed to go in. As a novice gardener who wants to learn more these posts will be so appreciated! x

  12. Love this post! We have just moved into our new house and you have just reminded me to get the bulbs planted into our rather bare garden! Love seeing the first signs of spring with crocuses and snowdrops, better get planting!

  13. Also love this post – our house is a new-build (well it’s 5 years old now but the garden has never been touched) and we think that when it was built the builders just turfed over the rubble – this means that our grass is very patchy (and always full of weeds, but we can’t really blame the builders for that). I do have a little border and planting bulbs are on my to do list for the next few weeks – this post is therefore well-timed and very helpful.

    Don’t worry about posting about lots of different things Rebecca – I think that there are lots of us who are equally diverse – it is nice to see it as a positive thing, sometimes I wonder if I flit between different things too much (night out with cocktails one minute, night in baking the next) but I reckon it’s all good really!

  14. Great advice. Please do continue with the this thread of advice in the blog. Like many here have new house. Its comes with a 120ft of garden that currently looks like a jungle… we have lots to do!

    It would be great if you have any gardening reference book recommendations too. I have just got the River Cottage Preserves book (which is great) to work out what to do with the many fruit trees in the garden, but would like to have a similar (i.e. helpful, not too simplistic but not for the expert either) book to read/make notes about over the weekend.

    • I bought quite a few books when we moved into our house last winter, by far the best ones I found were the flower expert and the vegetable expert by Dr D G Hessayon, they’re a bit old fashioned are the only ones I still use regularly. Would be keen to hear suggestions from others though!

        • Hi Caroline!

          Emma beat me to it but I have to agree the Dr Hessian series of ‘experts’ (I refreshed myself with the ‘Flower Expert’ writing this post) are brilliant. At least half of my gardening knowledge comes from growing up reading them!

          The books list plants by groups, bulbs being one and tells you when they flower and what conditions they like.

          I also like Alan Titchmarsh’s books for their written style and he looks at things differently, styles of garden, problem areas like shade etc… I can feel a post coming on!


      • I have a bookcase full of gardening & horticultural books due to my previous profession but whenever in need of help to care for my poor neglected garden I turn to ‘Gardening in Your Nightie’ by Helen Yemm. She has never failed me yet.

  15. I had no idea bulbs were planted about now!

    This is our first winter with our own garden so I will definitely be planting some next week (half term – whoop!)

    I want to start a veg patch asap too so please could you do a post about what veg need planting when?

    Thankyou xx

  16. Fabulous post that makes even the horticulturalist feel guilty for not yet having gotten round to it.

    A couple of things I’ve learnt from experience…..
    Snowdrops never ever took when I planted them from dry bulbs. They are much better if you buy and plant them ‘in the green’ as it’s known in the trade. There are loads of suppliers (snowdrop enthusiasts are known as ‘galanthophiles’) who will send you snowdrop bulbs that have already flowered but still have their leaves attached. If you plant these in Spring 2012 and have patience, you will be guaranteed a fantastic show in Spring 2013. Snowdrops also multiply which means every year you can dig them up once they’ve finished flowering, divide the bulbs and re plant in more places for even more flowers the following year…..hooray, bulbs for free!

    Also, don’t forget you can enjoy bulbs inside too. Paperwhite narcissi are amazing inside at Christmas and hyacinths don’t even need soil… can grown them sat on top of a vase of water, all they need is water around the hairy roots at the base of the bulb.

  17. Oooh great post can’t wait for more gardening posts! I also love all the comments here really helpful advice from other people too πŸ™‚ Definitely going to get some bulbs and look forward to seeing the plants arrive. I was in the eden project this week and got a seed bomb so going to try that soon too – hopefully something will grow in my garden!

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