Grouping Bulbs

Dots of bulbs planted in late summer and autumn will provide winter and spring colour. Mass bulbs of one variety to flower at the same time, or display a range.

Where to display bulbs

Once your bulbs have sprouted and adjusted to being brought out into the light, place them in the spot where you want them to flower. Most flowering bulbs prefer a light spot out of direct sunlight so a west or east facing window sill is ideal. For a strong impact grow a number of bulbs of the same type close together, but not touching, in the same container. It is better not to mix colours and varieties as they will probably not flower at the same time.

grouping bulbsGrouping like with like

Apart from growing a number of bulbs of one type in the same container, you can also group containers. By using a range of containers all in the same colour it is easy to create an effective arrangement. White provides a simple, clean-looking background that shows off the flower colour. Containers in a colour or design that matches flowers will highlight them.

Mixing varieties

There is no guarantee that bulbs will flower at the same time but it is possible to get around this problem in a couple of ways. You can pick a spring flowering plant with a long flowering period, a Primrose for instance, and add this to a container of bulbs. Alternatively, if you want to mix bulb varieties and colours, buy ready planted containers of bulbs when buds have formed and the colour is showing and add these to a group that you planted and that are about to flower.

If you plant a wide range of bulbs in the autumn, you can group these, and those that have yet to flower can form a leafy background to others that are flowering. When flowers are over, cut the stem off and place plants in a less obvious position where the leaves can be allowed to die back. The bulbs can then be planted outdoors, ready to flower next year.

Choosing containers

Provided you use the correct growing medium, bulbs can be grown in practically any type of container. If you use a plant pot with drainage holes, then grow bulbs in potting compost. If a container without drainage is used plant in bulb fibre, preferably with a layer of charcoal placed in the bottom.

grouping bulbs 2

Hyacinth look effective when they are grown in a glass container with their roots displayed. Add a little charcoal to the container to keep the water sweet.

Some other containers to consider include:

  • Decorative china — vegetable dishes, bowls, large jugs and teapots can look very effective if the design matches the flower colour.
  • Casseroles in earthy tones show off sunny yellow flowers like Daffodils and Narcissus.
  • Sugar basins, milk jugs and sauceboats can be used for smaller varieties like Snowdrops and Crocuses.
  • Baskets, lined with polythene, can make attractive, natural looking containers. Cover the fibre with moss.

Choosing by colour

Yellow flowering varieties

  • Crocus — Mammoth Yellow is a very bright yellow.
  • Grape Hyacinth — macrocarpum can be pale or medium yellow.
  • Narcissus/Daffodils. There are many varieties in a wide range of tones from cream to gold.
  • Iris — danfordiae is a bright lemon yellow. Hoop Petticoat Narcissus bulbodicum — conspicuus is bright yellow and romieuxii is a pale yellow.
  • Tulips — Kolpakowskiana is bright yellow, Tarda is yellow with white petal edges.
  • Blushing Bride has cream petals lightly touched with red around the edges. Absalon is striped red and yellow.

White flowering varieties

  • Snowdrops
  • Tulip — Glacier
  • SquillScilla sibirica
  • Grape Hyacinth Album
  • Ornighogalum nutans is white with green bands.
  • Narcissus — Paperwhite Grandiflora Watieri, Chinese White and Vigil are all white varieties.

Blue flowering varieties

  • Squill — Scilla sibirica is a brilliant blue.
  • Hyacinth — ostara is a strong blue.
  • Iris reticulata — Harmony is bright blue with a yellow central streak, Clarette is pale lilac with a deeper edge.
  • Grape Hyacinth — Heavenly Blue is a bright, clear blue.

Pink and red flowering varieties

  • Glory of the Snow — Rosea has pink flowers.
  • Hyacinth — Princess Margaret is pink.
  • Tulip — Queen of Sheba has narrow, pointed petals in clear red tipped with yellow, Marshall Haig is scarlet, Queen of Bartigons is bright pink and Fantasy is frilled in pink streaked with green.
  • Amaryllis — Apple Blossom is pink streaked on white.

Growing bulbs outdoors

After flowering, plant bulbs in the garden when they should flower regularly for a number of years.

If you want to grow them in pots by the front door or on the patio leave them to die back in their original containers and then plant in position in the autumn. Don’t leave bulbs outside to die back in a container without drainage holes, heavy rain could rot the bulbs.

Most spring bulbs will flower in shady as well as sunny positions, but flowering may be delayed in a less well-lit position.

Outdoor containers are suitable for bulbs but plant them deeper than you would in a container indoors. As a rule of thumb, plant them so that the bulb top is at least a depth below the surface equivalent to the bulb size.

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