Imaginative displays of bulbs are the perfect way to welcome spring. A continuous display can be maintained using simple steps and when blooms fade, baskets can be lifted out and replaced for a fresh display of colourful flowers. When buying bulbs there are a few simple steps to follow; Bulbs should be plump, firm and checked carefully for any signs of decay. The largest bulbs in a batch will be the most prolific, while the smaller ones may not have reached their flowering size.
Some dry bulb varieties, such as snowdrops, cyclamen and aconites, do not establish well, so buy them in pots when they are in flower and then plant them straight into display containers.
You can achieve some stunning displays of colour by mixing different types of bulbs. Contrasting or matching daffodils and tulips always look good together so try layer planting. Plant your bulbs in two separate layers so they grow through each other to achieve a bumper show.
When growing in containers, choose the right shape and size of container to compliment your display of flowers. If you are using clay pots, place crocks over the drainage hole in the base before adding compost.
Half-fill the container with multi-purpose compost and push well down. Make sure you have at least 2cm (1in) of compost beneath the bulb for the roots to spread. Plant up pots with single varieties of bulbs to give bold displays. The rule of thumb is to plant at two to three times the depth of the bulb. Tulips are placed in each corner and along the sides, then evenly over the middle, ensuring the bulbs don't touch. Cover with compost, teasing down between the bulbs and firming the soil with your fingertips. Special compost is not required for most spring bulbs, although the addition of sharp grit to any standard multi-purpose compost will improve the drainage and help prevent waterlogging. Top up with compost to the brim of the basket. It is vital that the compost reaches the top so the brim doesn't show, then water well, topping up with compost if it settles. Stand your filled pots in a cool position to develop.