A SUREFIRE – and easy – way of bringing colour and texture to the garden in summer is to plant bulbs. Ruth shows you how

I HAVE always wanted more colour in my summer garden, so this year I was determined to get my summer bulbs – including corms and tubers – in on time.

Alliums, agapanthus, dahlias, gladioli, begonias, autumn-flowering nerines – the list of plants that brighten borders and patio containers from June right through to October (and sometimes beyond) is almost endless.

The ideal time to get bulbs in the ground is early spring, when the soil is starting to warm up.

Most bulbs will grow happily in containers, especially those with large, showy flowers such as lilies, arum lilies, agapanthus and alliums.

In open soil, plants bulbs in large groups for a real punch of colour.

Here’s how to do it….


If you want a showy patio container full of colour this summer, why not try planting two types of  lily bulbs –  try ‘Ladylike’ and ‘Crimson Pixie’.

Step 1 – For bulbs that are only going to spend one season in their container, use a mix of three parts multi-purpose compost with one part grit. For long-term container displays, like this one, use three parts John Innes No 2 compost mixed with one part grit.

mixing John Innes and grit

Step 2 – Good drainage is important to avoid waterlogging and rotten bulbs, so add crocks to the base of the container. I used broken bits from old pots

placing crocks

Step 3 – Start filling the pot with compost mix. Bulbs should be planted at three times their own height, paced one bulb apart. Make sure the ‘pointy bit’ of the bulb is facing upwards

Lily bulbs in pot

Step 4 – Cover the bulbs with the remaining compost, leaving an inch at the top of the container for watering. Firm the compost, but don’t compact it.

Covering lily bulbs with compost

Step 5 – Water the bulbs well to make sure moisture reaches down t them and doesn’t just wet the top of the compost.

watering bulbs 1

Step 6 – Finally, place your container on pot feet. This helps drainage further, especially as the weather can be very wet at this time of year.

TimeInc pot feet

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