General instructions for autumn planting bulbs
The bulbs you receive are top-size and do not require extra nutrition at planting time. In fact, if your bulbs are planted in good garden soil which support other plants, almost no fertilizer is necessary in subsequent years either. In poor soils a dressing of some sort can be beneficial. The best time to do so is after the sprouts have broken through in early spring. A light dressing of any good organic fertilizer or well-rotted manure will be suitable. Remember, this feeding is not so much for the benefit of the flowers soon to open as for the new bulbs developing below. More specific instructions are given for the individual bulbs where appropriate.
After flowering in spring
Always allow the foliage of your spring bulbs to die naturally, for it is at this time that the bulb produces the food which will carry it over to the next season.
Plant in full sun or light shade in any soil provided it is well-drained. They are very effective both in the wild garden or in the border where they will lengthen the flowering season. For best effect Alliums should be grown in clumps of 5 or more. Bulbs may be left undisturbed for years and should be lifted and separated only when they become too crowded. Plant bulbs in a hole 3 times their own height.
Anemone blanda (Windflower)
They do best in dappled shade but will tolerate full sun in northern regions. The daisy-like flowers are effective in drifts beneath deciduous trees or planted in between shrubs and perennials. They are deep rooting and the soil should be prepared to a depth of at least 20cm. A light dressing of well-rotted manure and leaf-mould in autumn every other year is beneficial. We prefer to give the dry black tubers a soaking in water overnight prior to planting. Plant 8cm deep, 10cm apart.
They are an easy culture, quite hardy and do best in soil that is not too dry. A damp semi-wild grassy area or a bank near a stream would make an ideal location. It will, however, grow in any good garden soil in sun or light shade. Leave bulbs undisturbed until crowding makes dividing necessary in autumn. Fertilizer is usually not needed, but an application of compost or old manure on poor soils in autumn will be beneficiary. Plant in sun or light shade, 15cm deep, 20cm apart.
Chionodaxa (Snow Glory)
The bulbs naturalize readily by seeding themselves wherever they are left undisturbed. They prefer light shade and a woodsy soil that is well-drained but not too dry. Little maintenance is required but a mulch of decayed manure and leaf-mould in the autumn once every two years will insure more and finer flowers each spring. Lift and divide overcrowded bulbs in autumn. Plant 8cm deep, 8cm apart.
Plant the corms in any reasonably fertile well-drained soil in sun or light shade. For very early spring bloom they should be given a sunny protected spot. Crocuses are ideal for edgings, rock gardens, in pots, under hedges, beneath deciduous trees and shrubs, or for naturalizing in grass. If planted in a lawn, be sure to skip the crocus area for the first one or two mowings. Only when plantings have become too crowded should the corms be lifted, divided and planted again in autumn. Plant 8cm deep, 8cm apart.
Eranthis (Winter Aconite)
They are the earliest yellow flowers and make a perfect late-winter carpet beneath trees and shrubs. Any soil, including clay, is suitable as long as it is moderately well-drained and does not dry out in summer. It makes a lovely early spring show in combination with Snowdrops. A mulch of decayed manure and leaf-mould once every two years in the autumn will insure more and finer flowers. Soaking the black tubers in water 24 hours prior to planting helps to increase the percentage of flowers the first spring.
Plant 5cm deep, 8cm apart.
Erythronium (Trout Lily)
Few bulbs are as lovely for lighting up a shady spot. Plant them in any shaded situation where there is a moderate degree of moisture. They enjoy a cool, organically rich, loamy soil but will grow in any good garden soil. The bulbs should be disturbed as little as possible and benefit from a top-dressing with peat or leaf-mould in the autumn.
Plant 10cm deep, 12cm apart.
Fritillaria meleagris (Snakes Head)
Plant them in bold groups in a soil which will not dry out in summer. They will take some sun but are best naturalized in short grass beneath mature trees as they enjoy partial shade. Remember to leave the grass uncut until July when the foliage has died down. Little fertilization is needed but the bulbs benefit from a top-dressing with leaf-mould or peat in autumn.
Plant 8cm deep, 10cm apart.
Fritillaria imperialis (Crown Imperial) Fritillaria persica
These large, exotic bulbs are perfectly hardy but might take a year or so to settle down. Plant them hollow side up in full sun or light shade in fertile, deeply dug soil. They seem to prefer a somewhat heavy soil, in sandy soils work in some leaf-mould or compost before planting. They make good border plants and are particularly effective in front of a stone wall in groups of 5 or more. Fritillarias are heavy feeders and benefit from a mulch of decayed manure or leaf-mould in the autumn and some fertilizer in early spring. Plant 15cm deep, 25cm apart.
Because of their extreme earliness snowdrops are great for lighting up bleak spots in the late winter garden. They prefer moist but well-drained soil and are best planted in drifts beneath deciduous trees where they receive protection from summer sunshine. It is the best of all bulbs for tucking away in little corners, under the edge of evergreens, against a hedge or in the rockery. Loosen the soil to a depth of at least 15cm for they are deep rooting and dislike shallow planting. They need little fertilization but will benefit from a mixture of decayed manure and leaf-mould in the autumn every other year.
Plant 10cm deep, 8cm apart.
They like at least half a day of sun both for blooming and ripening. An informal way to use hyacinths is to scatter them in small groups in and around the border where they will flower with the daffodils and early tulips. Don’t forget to plant some in pots close to the house for you will enjoy their sweet fragrance. In Holland hyacinths are often used in formal beds by planting the bulbs in geometric patterns. Lining up bulbs in single rows should be avoided. If you want a long bed of colour, plant them in rows of at least 4 bulbs wide. Left undisturbed they will bloom for several years. However, if large and uniform flowers are required, new bulbs should be planted each autumn. Plant 12cm deep, 12cm apart.
Bluebells are essentially woodland bulbs and are ideal for growing beneath deciduous trees where they enjoy partial shade and woodsy soil. Select a spot that is well-drained but not too dry. They even grow among evergreens where trees are not too dense and love the acid soil built up over the years by cones and needles. Spanish Bluebells take full sun too (English Bluebells are less tolerant). Drifts of Bluebells are beautiful among ferns and azaleas. They need little fertilization but will benefit from a mixture of decayed manure and leaf-mould in the autumn every other year. Plant 10cm deep, 12cm apart.
In the wild Snowflakes are found in damp meadows and on river banks. They are a good choice for a spot where the soil is less than perfectly drained, especially on the edge of pond or stream. It will, however, grow in any good garden soil in sun or light shade but is rarely succesful in hot dry places. A mulching of compost or decayed manure in autumn every other year will bring more and better flowers. Lift and divide the bulbs in autumn when they become too crowded and more leaves than blooms are produced. Plant 12cm deep, 15cm apart.
Muscari (Grape Hyacinths)
While they like sun, Grape Hyacinths thrive in almost any kind of open situation and in any kind of soil. Lifting and replanting in the autumn is necessary only if plantings become too crowded but usually they can be left alone for many years. An edge of Muscari lends a finishing touch to a border of mid-season Tulips and they make a fine spring association with white and yellow Daffodils. Don’t be alarmed when your Muscari form clumps of foliage in the autumn. Plant 8cm deep, 10cm apart.
To bloom well Daffodils require about half a day of sun. Sometimes we hear that daffodils go ‘blind’ after a number of years. In most cases this is due to shallow planting, depriving the roots of the necessary moisture. Another reason is impoverished soil. It often pays to work in some compost or old manure before planting. Daffodil foliage persists for many weeks after flowering. If you want your bulbs to bloom again next season, you must wait for the leaves to turn yellow. For extra feeding apply a slow-release granular fertilizer in early spring or just after they have flowered. In naturalizing Daffodils plant the bulbs farther apart than you would do for garden plantings. This spacing gives room for increase. Plant them in drifts or shoals for a naturalistic effect. Thus planted they may stay indefinitely. Daffodils are also excellent for growing in pots outdoors.
Plant large Daffodils 15cm deep, 15cm apart.
Plant miniature Daffodils 10cm deep, 10cm apart.
Ornithogalum nutans (Silver Bells)
It grows almost anywhere but performs best in light shade. Plant the bulbs in open woodland, under shrubs, in a wild garden, or in grass which does not require cutting until the summer. They are charming rising among young fern shoots in late spring. Silver Bells prefer a well-drained soil containing organic material to retain summer moisture. They need little fertilization but will benefit from a mulching of compost in autumn. It will self seed or it may be propagated by dividing the bulbs after they have bloomed. Plant 8cm deep, 10cm apart.
Scilla (Blue Squills)
Scilla grows in most situations in sun or shade. The ideal soil would be fertile, moist but well-drained. The bulbs are suitable for naturalizing beneath light trees, under hedges, in the rockery or in the wild garden. Blue Squill self-sows with abandon: if left undisturbed, a handful of bulbs will over time form a thick, brilliant blue carpet in early spring. Little fertilization is needed but a mulch of well-rotted manure or leaf-mould applied in the autumn once every two years will be beneficial. Blue Squills are probably the best companion to any Daffodil planting. Plant 8cm deep, 8cm apart.
They perform best in full sun but will tolerate some shade. Tulips dislike wetness and require well-drained soil. Single lines of Tulips are always disappointing; if you want a bold effect plant them in groups of at least 15-20 bulbs. Tulips make also good container plants and they are delightful cut flowers. Treat them like annuals where a perfect display is wanted. After flowering discard the bulbs and start with fresh stock each year. In the less formal garden, leave the bulbs in place for a ‘naturalistic’ effect for as long as they bloom. Flowers will be uneven in size and height but this will have its own special charm. Snap off the top of stems as soon as they finish blooming. This way the plant sends energy into bulb growth rather than seed production. Always allow the tulip foliage to wither completely before you remove it.
Plant large garden Tulips 18cm deep, 12cm apart.
Plant wild Tulips 12cm deep, 8cm apar