Planting bulbs for 2023

It may be November but that doesn’t mean the gardening stops here! Our green-fingered expert Adam Kirtland is already planning for a dazzling display of bulbs next spring, and has some original ideas to help you make a stunning show

Although the temperate has dropped significantly and summer is a long-forgotten memory, we’re technically still in autumn and that means one thing. Planning! Planning for a spectacular garden in 2023 and in particular, planting bulbs for spring!

You’ll need some ingredients!

Anyone who knows me will know that I absolutely adore bulbs – they’re the best thing, in my mind – pop them in, cover them in compost and wait. What could be simpler than that? My absolute favourites are tulips and even if you only plant up one pot of them this year then you’ll be forever grateful that you did come spring.
A fantastic way to get a display that lasts weeks and weeks is to put together a bulb lasagne – a pot or container built up with layers of bulbs that flowers one after the other. A really traditional lasagne would comprise of tulips at the bottom, followed by daffodils and topped off with crocus. The crocus will flower as early as February, the daffodils around March and then the tulips after that, until April (or thereabouts).
Put simply, you’ll need the largest pot you have and start to build up the layers. First of all, make sure there are drainage holes at the bottom – bulbs that sit in soggy compost won’t be happy and are likely to rot. Use some broken crocks to help with drainage.

Add your first layer of compost – about 10 to 15cm will do – then your tulips which can go quite close together as long as they aren’t touching. Add enough compost to cover this layer, repeat with your daffodils, then more compost and finally your crocus bulbs. Top this off with a final layer of compost that comes just below the rim of the pot. To stop any critters such as squirrels getting to your bulbs add woodchip, gravel or grit to the top – don’t worry, the bulbs will grow through with no problems.
Give the pot a good water and then leave it! Don’t be tempted to mess around with it at all, and it won’t need watering again until the first signs of growth in spring. Then, all that’s left to do is sit back and wait for your lasagne to do its thing. 

Come out of the kitchen!

While some bulbs such as daffodils do well in pots, when they’re in the ground they’ll have a chance to multiply. If left alone in the borders or in beds then each and every year, they’ll get bigger and spread which means more daffodils every new spring.
We’ve all seen daffodils in massive drifts on the sides of country lanes and in woodland, and there’s no reason you can’t do the same in your garden. Daffodils aren’t expensive, and you can buy large bags of them from many DIY shops or bargain stores to get you going. There are small ones with lots of scent, such as Tête-à-Tête, and some particularly beautiful ones, like Narcissus poeticus var. recurves, more commonly known as ‘pheasants eye’ – which have the most striking white petals with a red tipped centre. Two fantastic things about pheasants eye are the sweet citrus scent and the fact that they flower late, appearing in around mid-April, helping to extend spring just that little bit further.

Something to try!

We’ve all heard of tulips and daffodils, but how about something a little different? Perhaps the imposing Fritillaria imperialis, Crown imperial? It’s a little late in the season to be planting these now but if you do it right at the start of November you might just be ok with them. These large flowering bulbs will come out between April and May with the most intriguing flower heads, quite exotic and like nothing you’ve seen before. Or, maybe try Allium Red Mohican – bearing bizarre, bulbous flowers (so called as they resemble a Mohican haircut) above lofty stems, they are sure to turn heads in any garden.

So, what will you try?

I’d be absolutely thrilled if I knew that the gardens of Birmingham were soon to be filled to the brim with tulips, daffodils and who knows else what! So, have a try, let me know what you go with and share them with me over on my Instagram page.
Spring bulbs are a real highlight in the garden after a long winter, so see how you can brighten up your greenspace. No matter how big or small! 

Next month
I’ll be bringing you all my must-have gifts for gardeners for Christmas! No matter the size of the garden or even just a pot….I’ll have something for every one of your green fingered friends!

You can follow Adam on Instagram @viewfromthepottingbench or listen to Adam’s podcast Tales From The Potting Bench for more gardening inspiration. You can also read Adam’s blog at