How to plant and grow bluebells

Posted in All Gardening Advice, Bulbs, February, September, on

Bluebells flower from late April to May, filling our woods with their incredible flowers and fragrance and providing nectar for moths, bees and butterflies.

Planting

Soil and Site

Can cope with most soils, but prefers a moist, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter so add plenty of well-rotted manure, leaf mould or garden compost to the soil prior to planting. Bluebells are woodland lovers so plant in partial shade, ideally below deciduous trees or shrubs.

Spacing

Bulbs in the green (spring planting):
Plant your bluebells at the level that they were planted before they were lifted, which you’ll see from where the leaves turn white. This will be at a depth of about 10cm (4in), spacing them about 10cm (4in) apart. 

Dry bulbs (autumn planting):
Plant at least twice the depth of the bulb, 15cm (6in) deep and 15cm (6in) apart, with the pointed up upwards. Bluebells should be planted as deeply as possible, 4 ins being the minimum, and more if possible. In nature they are often found over a foot beneath the surface of the soil!

In the garden

For natural looking drifts of bluebell flowers, cast the bulbs across the planting area and plant them where they land. They will gradually self sow and naturalise over time.

For containers

Bluebells can also be planted in containers in the same soil conditions, (good-quality, well-drained soil). Ensure there are adequate draining holes. Place in part shade. Lift the bulbs once flowered and plant elsewhere in the garden.

Aftercare

After flowering has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don't cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the bulbs for the future.

Please note that bluebells in the green can take several years to establish themselves after transplanting. It is not unusual to have only leaves in the year following transplanting, even if the plants are in flower when received from us. This is because the bulbs are re-establishing their root systems, and do not divert strength to producing flowers.

You can lift and divide in late summer or just leave them to get on with it.

Cut Flowers

Pick when they first emerge and sear the stems for 20 seconds. Use scissors to pull them up and cut above the white part of the stalk so as to not damage the bulb. Best arranged on it’s own or with cowslips.

Advice

Harmful if eaten.

Bluebells are deer, rabbit and squirrel resistant, so they may be planted in areas with wildlife. 

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