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26 Sep 2016
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Spring bulb advice from Millbrook
Filed under Plants & Gardening
Now is the time to choose some Spring bulbs, ready to get planting any time from the end of September until the first frosts.  If you are new to bulb planting or looking to plant something new to brighten up your Spring garden, read on...

  What’s the advantage of planting bulbs?

Bulbs are really easy to plant and look after. They’re also excellent value for money. Plant them in Autumn and they’ll surprise and delight you in Spring with their glorious colours. 

What are the most popular bulbs?

Daffodils, narcissus, tulips, hyacinths, lily of the valley, crocus, iris, cyclamen, allium, bluebells and snowdrops. 

How should I decide which bulbs to buy?

There are five key things to think about when choosing bulbs. The first is obviously colour, then which month it’ll bloom, height of the plant, which month they need to go in the ground and how deep they need to be planted. You can plan a different spectacular display each month with this information. Read the packaging in store, or ask one of our helpful team for advice.


When can you plant bulbs?

If you’ve bought your bulbs in advance, keep them dry and cool and make sure not to store them for too long. If they’re soft or rotting, then throw them away, but if they’ve already sprouted or look a little bit past their best, plant them anyway, you might just be lucky! Plant bulbs that will flower in Spring/Summer, such as daffodils, hyacinths, crocus and alliums out in late September/early October. Plant tulip bulbs in November, before the first frosts.

Why can’t you just plant them in Spring if that’s when they grow?

Bulbs need a long dormant period in cold temperatures for healthy root development.


  Can you plant bulbs in containers?

Yes, bulbs will be happy in containers or in open soil as long as the soil is well-drained. We advise using Bulb Fibre, or mixing John Innes No.2 with Multi Purpose compost.

How do you plant bulbs?

Bulbs need to be planted top side up, or sideways. It’s the thinner end of the bulb that should face upwards. As a rule of thumb, plant bulbs three times the depth of the bulb you’re planting. We would recommend planting bulbs in groups of six, but for a really good display, consider planting around 25 to 50 bulbs. Our Blooming Value Bulb Pack offer (see below) for Millbrook family members is ideal for bulk buying bulbs. If you want to naturalize bulbs in grass, throwing them up in the air and planting them where they fall will give you a natural, random effect. Bulbs won't grow if you plant them too deep, or upside down and although they will flower for the first year in almost any position, they won't reflower in following years unelss they're getting the right levels of sunshine or moisture.

  How much water do they need?

Once you’ve planted them, give them a good water as this will help the roots develop. After that, while they’re dormant, you can water less frequently but make sure the soil doesn’t dry out. When the first green shoots
appear, begin watering regularly again.

What else will help them grow their best?

Add a handful of general purpose fertilizer when the green shoots appear in Spring and then feed regularly, every 7-10 days. A liquid tomato feed which contains potassium is a good bet.

Did you know…?

…You can ‘lasagne layer’ your bulbs for weeks of Spring colour. Start with the biggest bulbs and plant them 3 to 4 times the depth of the bulb, then layer up with tulips, small narcissi, crocus etc.
  The Millbrook team’s favourite bulbs:

‘Alliums are brilliant bulbs. It’s like a firework going off in your garden, frozen in time. I love their beautiful architectural structure, they’re on trend and they’ll grow in any position.’ Pictured left, Allium Christophii.
Jason Payne, Centre Manager, Crowborough

‘Snake’s Head Fritillary which flowers from April to May and grows to a height of 20cm is one of my favourite bulbs because of its mostly chequered flowers. It also produces white faintly chequered flowers which complement each other very well. This native plant, originally found in flower-rich, floodplain meadows will cope well in damp soils but will grow best in a sunny spot and tolerate partial shade.' Pictured above left.
Michael Willock, Plant Manager, Crowborough
    ... continued:

'I love tulips, really any tulip. They have such a great range of colours, shapes, petal forms, heights, and the earliest ones will start flowering in late March, and if you choose your varieties carefully, you can have late flowering tulips still looking amazing 2 months later. They have a very unusual, slightly peppery smell which I always associate with the start of spring, and I love that you can cut them and bring them into the house as well. This year I’m buying Calypso, an unusual orange and bronze early flowered variety for my pots, and then for the garden I’m mixing 3 varieties, Madeleine, Queensland and Showcase, so I have drifts of pale and dark pink flowers, mixed in with the deep burgundy of Showcase. Roll on Spring!
Kate Haines, Plant Area Manager, Gravesend

  Special bulb offers for October for Millbrook family members

3 for £10 Blooming Value Bulb Packs 40 Narcissus / 25 Dwarf Tulips / 45 Dwarf Iris (£4.99 each)

2 for £6 MiracleGro Bulb Fibre 20L (£4.49 each)

If you haven’t joined yet, you can join for free in store and take advantage of the offers straight away.


  Win a trip to the Dutch bulb fields! 

Love bulbs? You could win a trip to the Dutch bulb fields courtesy of Shearings Holidays. Simply spend £70 in one transaction in store and we will automatically enter you into the draw. Find out more here.




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