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Naturalising Bulbs in Grass and Woodland

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.

Native Daffodils

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.

In Grass

The following bulbs are all idea for naturalising in grass:

In Woodland

The following bulbs are all idea for growing in woodland:

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


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3 thoughts on “Naturalising Bulbs in Grass and Woodland”

  1. Katie Brunt Katie Brunt says:

    Hi Anthony, unfortunately at present we don’t have a specific growing guide available as a blog post on lily bulbs. However, if you follow this link at the bottom of the page you will find plenty of information on planting and growing lily bulbs –

    Here is the advice:

    Planting lily bulbs:
    Ideally, Lily bulbs should be planted in full sun with a little dappled shade for part of the day
    Well-drained soil is essential
    Protect from strong winds
    Plant where the perfume will be appreciated – near doors, windows or outdoor seating areas

    How to grow Lily Bulbs?
    Plant in the autumn or early spring
    Plant 10 to 23cm deep and 23 to 38 cm apart
    Mulch lightly with compost after planting
    Water regularly during dry spells but take care not to over-water as this may cause the bulbs to rot
    Remove spent flower stems
    Leave the yellowing leaves to die down naturally
    Please note that lilies do not tend to grow to full height in their first year

    We hope this is helpful to you.
    Best regards,
    The Suttons Team

  2. Avatar Anthony Hartnett says:

    I bought some lily bulbs from you they arrived yesterday. This is the recommended website for planting guide. I cannot find any reference to how or when to plant them

  3. Great ideas for people with space. I strongly believe that sometimes natural looks better than artificially arranged!

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