By grouping bulbs into clusters or drifts this will give you a greater impact of colour than planting a few here and there.
To create a wonderful kaleidoscope of colour that can last from July to October choose a range of early, mid and late flowering bulb varieties. Generally most types of bulbs, Tulips, Daffodils, Dutch Iris, Hyacinths etc. will have flowering varieties that come into these categories. With Tulips you can also plant chilled and unchilled bulbs together. The advantage of doing this is that you can have ongoing colour for a longer time in your beds as there is approximately two weeks difference in flowering time between chilled and unchilled bulbs, however, unchilled bulbs will not grow as tall as chilled, approximately half their listed height.
By planting annuals such as Pansies, Violets or Primulas in contrasting or harmonious colours can give you a wonderful under-planting of colour. An example is blue pansies under yellow or orange tulips or white with pink tulips etc. Or you can plant different bulb varieties together with stunning results for example. Red Tulips with blue/purple hyacinths or combine Anemones with tall growing tulips or even mixing tall and low growing tulips can give you a wonderful under-story of colour. Let your imagination go and see the delightful effects you can create.
An easy and very effective way of keeping different varieties segregated when planting so you know where they are later, is to surround them using plants like Parsley, Alyssum, California Poppies etc. These will all give you a wonderful contrast of colour and will go on flowering after the bulbs have finished.
Most bulbs will grow in any position, however, some will not flower if they do not get sufficient sun e.g.: Daffodils.
Full Sun Areas: Tulips, Hyacinths Freesias, Grape Hyacinths, Anemones, Ranunculi, Daffodils, Dutch Iris, Snowdrops, Arab Eyes, Alstromeria,Erlicheer, Soldier Boys, Nerines, Bluebells.
Shady Areas: Anemones, Bluebells, Hyacinths, Grape Hyacinths, Dutch Iris, Alstromeria, Dutch Crocus, Soldier Boys, Ranunculi, Tulips, Snowdrops, Dutch Crocus. (We have grown Tulips, and Dutch Iris in full shade, they will lean towards the light but still flower beautifully).
Rockery Areas: Daffodils, Dutch Iris, Hyacinths, Grape Hyacinths, Dutch Crocus, Soldier Boys, Snowdrops, Bluebells, Tulips, Rock Tulips, Nerines, Freesias.
Naturalising Bulbs: These bulbs can be left undisturbed for many years. Anemones, Daffodils, Dutch Iris, Ranunculi, Hyacinths, Grape Hyacinths, Freesias, Bluebells, Soldier Boys, Snowdops, Arab Eyes, Alstromeria, Erlicheer, Nerines, Dutch Crocus.
Growing bulbs in pots is an easy and quick way to create a wonderful splash of colour that can be brought inside or placed in a spot in the garden that needs a cheerful highlight.
The number of bulbs that can be grown in pots is really an individuals choice as to the look that is required. As long as the bulbs aren’t touching they will grow and flower. As bulb sizes for different varieties do vary, the number you can place in a pot will vary as well. For example, the size of Daffodils bulb varieties vary greatly, some are small while others are quite large.
These recommendation are for medium sizes bulbs e.g. Tulips
Planting Time: April to August. Tulips can be planted at regular intervals during this time. Using the same variety, planted at two weekly intervals, will give potted colour over months.
Soil: A general purpose potting mix or a free draining soil. Fertiliser- Blood and bone with a little complete garden fertilizer mixed into potting mix. Water with liquid fertiliser during growth.
Depth and Spacing: Plant approximately 1cm beneath the surface of the soil. (An easy way to do this is by filling pot to two thirds with potting mix, place bulbs evenly then fill with soil, covering bulbs by 1cm above the height of the bulbs). If planting into a deep trough, depth of planting can be the same as for the garden as there is plenty of room for root growth. Tulips have a flat side to the bulb, if this flat side is placed facing the edge of the pot you will get a nice shaped balanced look to the pot with the first large leaf forming over the edge of the pot.
Face flat side of tulip bulb toward outside edge of the pot. This will give you a balanced look to your pot with the first large leaf falling over the edge of the pot.
Do not put bulbs too close to the edge of the pot as heat from the outside can effect the flower inside the bulbs. (If bulbs become too hot the flower can abort and you will get only leaves, this is not the end of them as they will set a flower for the next year.) Tall varieties of tulips need to be planted deeper to support growth. Plant closer together in pots than in the garden, as long as bulbs are not touching.
Aspect: Place potted bulbs in a cool position until leaves are approximately 10cm high. (Leaves will then shelter bulbs from heat). Pots can then be put into a sunny position. Tall tulips can be affected by wind and can blow over so place pots in a sheltered position.
Watering: Keep moist, don’t over water as bulbs can rot.
Flowering: When in flower, pots can be taken inside to enjoy. However, if the pots are put out at night the flowers will last longer.
After flowering care: Keep moist until leaves start to turn yellow, then stop watering and place pot in cool place to die down. When leaves are dry, remove bulbs and store in a cool, dry place e.g. inside at floor level. Bulbs are best only for one year in pots then plant out.