It's easy to encourage bulbs to naturalise in your own garden. Naturalising usually refers to bulbs planted in lawns, but you can also naturalise bulbs in borders for dazzling splashes of colour early in the year.
Bulbs like a well-drained soil, and may rot if the soil is too heavy. To improve your soil's drainage, dig in lots of organic material such as compost or well-rotted farmyard manure.
If you're planting in borders, plant your bulbs in odd-number groups, for example in groups of seven or nine, to give a natural effect. When planting bulbs in lawns, don't place the bulbs individually, just throw handfuls into the air and plant them where they fall. This will give you a more relaxed, informal effect
Once the bulbs have flowered, leave that section of lawn uncut until the leaves have faded, to allow the bulbs to absorb food for next year.
Which bulbs are best?
In sunny gardens, daffodils, crocuses and tulips will thrive. But many bulbs, including bluebells, snowdrops and fritillaries with their delicate nodding purple flowers, are also happy in dappled shade under deciduous trees, where they get sunlight early in the year before the trees are in leaf.
To help you choose the perfect bulbs for your conditions, we've selected a few of the best below.
Crocus 'Whitewall Purple' – excellent for naturalising, creating pools of purple colour year after year.
The Pheasant's eye daffodil (Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus_ – a delicate-looking white daffodil that naturalises beautifully. Yellow Daffodils 'Hawera' and 'Baby Moon' are also excellent, creating splashes of bright colour.
The best tulips for naturalising are the species tulips. Our Tulip 'Species mix' is a combination of vibrant colours that will last for years in a well-drained, sunny border.
For shady gardens, the snakeshead fritillary, Fritillaria meleagris, is one of the few bulbs that prefers a heavier soil. Its bell-like, nodding purple flowers look gorgeous naturalised in lawns.
Another shade-loving bulb is the English bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta. This classic woodland flower will grow happily in light shade, spreading out year on year into a sea of blue.
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) are also ideal for dappled shade, with their gleaming white flowers signaling the end of winter.