Naturalising bulbs is one of the best ways of creating natural looking drifts of colour that will simply get better each year. The process is simple, just allow the bulbs to seed and spread wherever they choose. Amongst the best places are beneath deciduous trees, in lawns and wildflower areas.
Bulbs suitable for naturalising include daffodils, crocus, snowdrops and cyclamen. If planting in lawns then choose early flowering bulbs. This will give the leaves time to die back naturally before it’s time to get the mower out. Remember all bulbs should be left to die back naturally for a minimum of 6 weeks, this will allow the bulbs to build up strength for next year.
When planting small bulbs in grass first make the holes with a garden fork. Then, pop the bulbs in the holes, making sure they are about 3 times the depth of the bulbs. Finally, simply fill the holes with soil and water.
The best way to plant larger bulbs is to lift a patch of turf and scatter the bulbs. Score the underside of the turf to loosen the soil, replace it and then give the area a good watering with the hose.
Scatter and plant the bulbs naturally but still make sure they are not too close together. They will need room to spread!
Some bulbs will also naturalise well in woodland areas, beneath deciduous trees. The lack of leaves in early spring and late autumn will mean there is plenty of light in which the bulbs can flourish. Most bulbs will also grow happily in dappled shade.
In a woodland setting bulbs work really well amongst ferns, hellebores and primula. The only bulbs that will really need to be grown on their own are English Bluebells as they will happily swamp anything in their path.
The following bulbs are all idea for naturalising in grass:
- Anemone blanda
- Bluebells (English)
- Crocus Colchicum
- Woodland Tulip
The following bulbs are all idea for growing in woodland:
- Anemone nemorosa
- Hardy cyclamen
- Lily of the Valley
- Winter Aconite
- Woodland Tulip
The key points to remember wherever you decide to naturalise bulbs are:
- Choose the right bulb for the right area
- Planting holes need to be about 3 times as deep as the depth of the bulbs
- Scatter and plant the bulbs so that they look natural (no neat rows!)
- Allow the leaves to die back naturally after flowering