The Best Way To Plant Spring Bulbs

An easy how to guide to planting bulbs in May for vibrant spring displays in the garden 

Purple hyacinths grown from bulbs

Hyacinths tend to suit cooler climates

Easy to grow in pots and gardens, spring-flowering bulbs are a mix of true bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers.

Bulbs are sold singularly or in packs at nurseries, from 25 cents to $3 for rarer types.

Mail-order companies tend to have a wide range, including rare types for collectors. Choose plump, well-formed ones without signs of mould and store in a cool, dry place.

Choosing for climate

Spring bulbs tend to suit cooler climates, including tulip, daffodil and hyacinth, but there are some for warmer areas, such as babiana, jonquil, freesia, snowflake, Spanish bluebell and grape hyacinth.

Some like freesia self-seed so don't plant near the bush. 

A bright field of pink and purple tulips

Some tulips produce beautiful pink and purple flowers

Preparing the soil

Well-draining soil is best. Improve sandy, dry or compacted soil with compost and fertiliser from nurseries or garden centres.

Thick pots keep the potting mix cool for healthy growth. 

Planting for patterns

Choose a spot with winter and spring sun, then scatter bulbs and plant them where they land for a natural effect, or clump up to 15 close together. Plant the pointy end facing upwards and twice as deep as the bulb width, so a 30mm-wide bulb sits 60mm below the surface.


Rainfall or weekly watering is enough, and go easy on the fertiliser.

When flowering finishes the foliage dies, but for some bulbs such as jonquils it lasts longer as they store food in the leaves.

If these are cut down too early the plant won't flower next spring, so keep the yellowing leaves tidy by tying them in a knot.

Knotted jonquil leaves to protect the bulb's food source after flowering
Keep jonquils tidy by tying the leaves in a knot 

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