Wild Flower Shop

Contact & About Us
Delivery, T&Cs
Plant Collections Seed Packets  Seed Collections Meadow Mixtures Wild Grasses Info & Advice 

Native Bulbs

Pond Plants   Tel Orders:     
07590 895590

Click Here to buy 
Dormant Bulbs from 
September to December

Bulbs - Common Problems

Here is a list of commonly encountered problems with bulb planting.

Planting Time: 

For best results it is important that you plant your bulbs as soon as you receive them. If you do need to wait for a couple of days before planting them, storage is important. Bulbs such as Lily of the Valley, Wood Anemones are best stored in a fridge. Other bulbs with a flaky covering are best stored somewhere cool and dry eg Daffodils, Snowdrops, Tulips, Summer Snowflakes. You need to be particularly careful with Snakeshead Fritillaries to ensure that they don’t attract rodents – the fridge may be the safest option. 

Although we only send dormant bulbs out in the autumn and early winter, the later during this period that they are planted, the slower they are to appear and flower in the spring. 

Planting Depth:

Generally, the depth of soil above the bulb should be equal to at least the height of the bulb, but no more than three times the height of the bulb. There are exceptions. Snakeshead Fritillary, for example, should be planted at least 10cm below the soil surface to avoid depredations by mice and other rodents. Here are some minimum planting depths (ie from tip of bulb to soil surface), but all of our bulbs will be labelled individually: 

Wood Anemone - 2cm 
Winter Aconites - soak in water overnight & plant 8cm 
Bluebells - 5-10cm
Cyclamen – 2.5-5cm
Daffodils - 7cm
Lily of the Valley - plant rhizomes laid horizontally, 3cm deep
Ramsons – 5cm
Snowdrops – 5-8cm
Snakeshead Fritillary - 10cm
Snowflakes – 7cm 
Wild Tulips – 5-7cm

If bulbs are planted in a particularly cold area, make sure the tip of the bulb is protected by at least a 7.5cms covering of soil. 

If a bulb is planted too shallow, it is more exposed to the temperature above ground which may be fatal in unusually cold winters or prevent flowering in the spring.

If bulbs are planted too deeply, the stored resources in the bulb may not have enough energy to get the surface of the soil and beyond. Even if they do manage it in the first year, they may become weaker over time due to insufficient nutrient build up. 

Also ensure that the bulbs are planted the correct way up! 

Planting Location:

Ensure that the site you select for your bulbs is suitable for that particular variety. Many bulbs require good drainage and will rot in soggy, muddy soil. A soil with poor drainage is the enemy of most bulbs. This often leads to rotten bulbs that cannot grow. Adding organic matter either as compost, manure or finely chopped plant matter can help improve soil structure. If you have very poor drainage, often finding another place for your bulbs is the best course of action. On the other hand, if the soil gets very dry in the spring, you will need to water once a week. 

If the site is very exposed or exposed to harsh winds, growth may be affected. Planting bulbs in a depression where cold air settles may also affect growth. Planting near structures may also affect growth as they can block wind, radiate heat and warm the soil. This can speed up bulb growth in the spring, which can be good or bad depending on late frosts which can damage young shoots.

Incorrect Watering: 

If the bulbs are grown in pots, incorrect watering may cause problems. Don’t let the compost dry out as once the bulbs begin to shoot, they may not recover if they are allowed to dry out. Be careful not to over water or leave the plant pot standing in water for more than a few minutes. Water thoroughly but leave the compost to almost dry out before watering again thoroughly. 

Disturbance by Animals:

Mice, voles, squirrels and other rodents as well as deer and badgers will all take the bulbs themselves - often very soon after they have been planted. It can be difficult to prevent them rooting them up, but a few tips are:

  • don’t leave any debris on the soil surface after planting as this will attract animals to the site 
  • plant the bulbs a little deeper than recommended if you have problems with wildlife 
  • planting under turf helps protect the bulbs to some extent 
  • protect the surface of the soil with wire mesh if practical, but remove as the bulbs start to break the surface 
  • other barriers will be required to prevent wildlife grazing on the new shoots

Some small rodents dig and tunnel and even if they don’t eat the bulbs themselves, they create access for other animals or compromise bulbs that have roots sensitive to soil disturbance.

If the green shoots are eaten during the spring, they won’t be able to build up the bulb reserves for the subsequent growing season. Deer and rabbits are the most likely to do this.

If slugs and snails are a problem, do not use slug pellets as they will be harmful to other useful wildlife such as hedgehogs and frogs. A jam jar of beer sunk into the soil will attract any slugs or snails in the vicinity and can then be emptied out every few days. Copper rings can be used around plant pots and work very well.

Caterpillars are best removed by hand as they can very quickly remove all of the leaves on young plants.

Failure in Subsequent Years:

Do not remove foliage too soon after flowering to ensure the leaves can photosynthesize and build up the bulb reserves for the subsequent growing season.

If the bulbs become overcrowded over time, it can cause them not to flower. Divide these bulbs once the foliage has died back and they should begin flowering the following year.

Click Here to buy 
Dormant Bulbs from 
September to December

Click Here to buy 
Dormant Bulbs from 
September to December




Back To Previous Page