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How to Prepare Your Soil for Flower Bulb Planting

How to Prepare Your Soil for Flower Bulb Planting

How to Prepare Your Soil for Flower Bulb Planting

While it’s possible to plant bulbs and enjoy a floral display some months later, you will get much better results if you prepare your soil first. Bulbs contain plenty of food to help them grow once they are planted, and if they go into the ground or containers at the optimal time, they will grow. However, ensuring your soil is nice and healthy will give them a good start. Here’s how to prepare your soil for flower bulb planting. 

Why We Plant Bulbs

Flower bulbs are a great way to add colour to borders. Popular bulbs like daffodils and tulips are ubiquitous in UK gardens in the spring. Snowdrops pop up in early spring, followed by daffodils and tulips. They brighten up the garden when not much else is flowering.

There are also summer flowering bulbs, as well as autumn flowering bulbs for a splash of late-season colour. 

Bulb planting is easy and a task that’s suitable for any skill level. You don’t need to be an experienced gardener to enjoy a riot of spring colour. In addition, bulbs are readily available from a multitude of outlets, including our shop. 

Preparing the Soil for Planting Bulbs

Bulbs do better when the soil has been prepared first. Unless you are 100% sure your soil is healthy, follow the next steps. 

Organic Matter

Organic matter improves the quality of the soil, which is especially important if you have heavy clay-based soil or sandy soil that doesn’t hold water easily. If you are preparing a bed for the first time, dig over the soil and add organic matter, then work it in. Otherwise, layer a thick blanket of organic matter over the top of the soil and let it work naturally. Remember to redo this each year. You can apply as much as you like.


Fertiliser is also useful when planting bulbs. Use fertiliser to add nutrients to the soil, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash. You will have a choice of organic and inorganic fertiliser. Liquid or granular fertiliser are both easy to apply, but granular fertiliser stays in the soil longer. Always read the dosing instructions so you don’t add too much, which will damage your bulbs. 

See also  Bulbs to plant in autumn

When to Fertilise Bulbs

Add fertiliser to your bulbs if you notice flowers are diminishing. This will likely happen after a few years, as the nutrients are leached out of the soil. 

Bulbs can be fertilised when the leaves have grown and are above the soil. Add fertiliser at 50% strength, or according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. This is typically done by adding more water. Once your bulbs are no longer flowering, add more fertiliser, at half strength. 

Water your bulbs when you have fertilised them, as water helps the nutrients reach the roots more easily. 

When to Prepare Your Soil for Flower Bulb Planting

Put a note in your diary about preparing the soil before you put any new bulbs in the ground. Dig over the soil and add mulch and fertiliser before you unbox your bulbs. Spring bulbs should be planted around September until November, but it all depends on the type of bulb. Summer bulbs are planted in the spring, once the soil has warmed up. Bulbs won’t grow if the temperature is too cold. 

Bulbs can be planted in the borders, in pots and containers, and even in lawns. Once you have prepared the soil with mulch and fertiliser, and have forked it over to remove lumps, place your bulbs the right way up and add markers, so you don’t forget where they are!