"Is it time to plant bulbs already?"

I planted some Tulip and Narcissus bulbs in containers a couple of weekends ago and tweeted a couple of pictures as I did it. I was delighted to get the task completed, as I consider it late for planting Narcissus (daffodils), and just about the right time for the Tulips. Now of course this is coming from someone who plants bulbs as late as early January some years, but wanting to be organised this year, I was determined to get them in before the end of October.

A couple of days later a friend of mine was asking "Is it time to plant bulbs already?".

A fair enough question?

Well, with the way the weather has gone this year, I think so many people have just lost interest in the garden, and the idea of planting bulbs for Spring colour is probably just not on their radar.

How to do plant bulbs:
Put gravel in the bottom of the container for drainage, about 1 inch in depth.
Then in goes your compost to about half way in depth. In this case I used a mixture of potting compost mixed well with garden soil (3:1 mix) with plenty of fish, blood and bone fertilizer mixed in.
A good rule of thumb is that Daffodils and Tulips like to be planted with about twice their depth of soil on top of them. In other words, if a bulb is 3 inches (7.5 cm) long, then you should plant it 6 inches (15 cm) or slightly more deep.
Now I like to double layer my daffodils in pots. So, after compost goes in to the required height, I place in the bulbs (with the pointed bit pointing upwards) and almost cover them. Then I place in my next layer of bulbs and fill the container with compost to the top, firming it in as I go, with the final level half an inch below the rim.

In reality, I think the lower layer of bulbs is about 2.5 times their depth and the upper layer is 1.5 times. I do tend to place the larger than average at the lower level and the smaller than average at the upper level.

Finally, clean the edges, label and water the compost. Now leave for 4 months and you will be rewarded with an abundance of colour.

"Why the double layer" I hear you say.

Well, the upper layer will flower first and the lower layer will flower slightly later, thus extending the flowering period. Also, the pot looks fuller and more impressive.

I tend not to mix my bulbs in pots i.e. daffodils in one pot, Tulips in another, etc. this allows me to rotate the pots, depending on what is looking good in flower. I suppose I have plenty of pots (and space) to do this, otherwise I would mix.

If you haven't purchased bulbs yet, do trot down to your local garden centre and get some. I know it's getting late for planting them, but for a minimum investment and a little effort, you will be rewarded with so much colour in the Spring.