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How to plant and grow bulbs

Spring flowering bulbs are easy to grow and most bulbs have similar requirements so that once you understand the basics you can grow almost any bulbs with ease. Read on to find out how best to plant and grow your Spring Flowering Bulbs.

When to plant bulbs

For best results, the best time to plant your Spring flowering bulbs is the period between April to May (in Australia). This allows both the weather and the soil to cool.

Bulb planting Depth & Spacing

Most bulbs are planted twice as deep as the bulb is high/tall and the same distance apart. The pointed end of the bulb should be upwards. (Anemone & Ranunculi are the only exceptions). If you are unsure, you can always plant your bulb on it’s side and it will alway grow upwards!

Best Soil type for growing bulbs

Most Spring flowering bulbs are best planted in a freely draining soil. You can raise/mound up the garden beds to improve drainage. Alternatively plant and grow your bulbs in pots if your soil is soggy.


Most bulbs grow best in full sun to light shade. Generally heavier shade produces taller (and softer) stems. In warmer climates, most bulbs tolerate being planted in greater levels of shade.


Most Spring bulbs like their soil kept moist whilst they actively grow (from late Winter to early Summer) & reasonably dry whilst dormant. Therefore, start watering when green shoots appear and stop when foliage starts to yellow after flowering. If you experience high Summer rainfalls dig the bulbs up in Summer and store them in a dry spot.


A general rule of thumb is to top dress all bulbs in Autumn & water in. Use a specialty bulb fertiliser or general fertiliser. Many bulbs grow better if a second dressing is applied straight after flowering as this is when the bulb is taking in nutrients for next year’s flowers.

After flowering care

After flowering, it’s important that you continue watering & feeding the leaves since they are generating the energy the bulb requires to produce next year’s flowers.

Digging & storing your spring flower bulbs

Allow the foliage to die down before diggin up your bulbs. Firstly loosen the soil with a fork and gently pull up the bulbs by their stems. Allow the bulbs to dry somewhere cool (not in full sun). Once dry, clean excess dirt and remove old flower stalks. Try to leave the bulbs ‘skin’ in tact as this helps protect the bulbs. Store the bulbs somewhere cool (less than 25oC), dry and airy until you replant the following Autumn.

To refrigerate or not to refrigerate?

Tulip bulbs are the only bulbs which require 4-8 weeks in the crisper of the fridge before planting. DO NOT FREEZE THEM. An easy way to remember is to put your tulip bulbs in the fridge around April fool’s day, then plant your bulbs around Mother’s day.

Guide lines for planting your Spring flower bulbs in pots:

  • Keep the bulbs away from the outer edges of the pot which get very hot.
  • Water regularly to keep soil slightly moist.
  • plant the bulbs in the garden the following year since most won’t flower consecutive years in pots.

Where to plant and grow bulbs?

Bulbs to plant in sunny positions Bulbs to plant in shady positions
The bulbs below thrive being planted in such spots in a cool to temperate climate and they also tolerate shade for a couple of hours each day. In warmer climates they tolerate greater levels of shade:
  • Anemones
  • Freesias
  • Alliums
  • Hyacinths
  • Brodiaea
  • Ranunculi
  • Dutch Iris
  • Daffodils
  • Lachenalias
  • Spring Star Flowers
  • Ixias
  • Grape Hyacinths
  • Sparaxis and
  • Species Gladioli
These bulbs tolerate 2 – 3 hours of full sun each day or filtered light all day:
  • Anemones
  • Lachenalias
  • Dutch Crocus
  • Tulips
  • Daffodils
  • Bluebells
  • Cuban Lilies
  • Hyacinths
  • Grape Hyacinths
Bulbs to plant in rockeries Bulbs for naturalising
These smaller bulbs are ideal:
  • Blue bells, Dutch Iris, Daffodils, Rock Tulips, Rain Lilies
  • Babiana,Lachenalias, Cuban Liles, Grape Hyacinths and Spring Star Flowers.
These bulbs can be left to flower happily by themselves.
  • Anemones, Ixias, Blue bells, Daffodils, Dutch Iris
  • Freesias, Sparaxis, Watsonias, Lachenalias and Grape Hyacinths.