Snowdrops and Aconites

How Do I Use Spring Bulbs To Add Some Colour Beneath My Deciduous Trees And Shrubs

Spring bulbs inject a shot of colour under deciduous trees and shrubs

Why not perk up a cheerless area under deciduous trees in the spring with some colourful bulbs. Once the trees come into leaf and the canopy closes over it can become too dark for plants to produce flowers so spring is the best time to have a bit of colour in a woodland garden. If you don’t have a woodland in which to plant these little gems they can be planted under deciduous shrubs, but not under conifers as the soil under these trees is usually too dry and completely depleted of nutrients.

Most of these bulbs, corms or tubers are planted as dry bulbs in autumn or ‘in the green’ in spring. Buying them as dry bulbs in autumn is usually quite a lot cheaper than buying them growing in spring, but buying them ‘in the green’ can lead to a better success rate.

Most of the bulbs require a nice humus rich, well-drained soil but some need it fairly dry so extra grit must be added to the planting hole. If the planting position is likely to become sodden then don’t plant as the bulbs will just rot. Make sure the leaves are left to go yellow before you remove them, as the bulbs need them to photosynthesise and build up next years flower.

Aconites (Eranthis hyemalis)

  • Flowers: small yellow
  • Height: 10cm (4”)
  • Conditions: humus rich, well-drained

Anemone blanda

  • Flowers: pink, blue or white; delicate, daisy-like
  • Height: 10 – 15cm (4 – 6”)
  • Conditions: humus rich, well-drained

Anemone blanda with daffodil

Bluebell, English (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

  • Flowers: blue, delicate, nodding
  • Height: 30cm (12”)
  • Conditions: humus rich, well-drained

Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) in woodland in Lyth Valley

Daffodils and narcissi

  • Flowers: orange through to white, pink trumpet
  • Height: 15cm – 45cm (6 – 18”)
  • Conditions: humus rich, well-drained
  • Recommend the small wild daffodil Narcissus pseudonarcissus for the woodland garden

Narcissus pseudonarcissus

Dog’s Tooth Violet (Erythronium)

  • Flowers: yellow or pink
  • Height: 25 – 30cm (10 – 12”)
  • Conditions: humus rich, well-drained

Fritillaria michailovskyi

  • Flowers: burgundy with gold edge, bell-shaped
  • Height: 15 – 20cm (6 – 8”)
  • Conditions: really well-drained, add grit to the planting hole
  • Bulbs need careful handling as quite fragile

Fritillaria michailovskyi

Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa luciliae)

  • Flowers: blue stars with white centre
  • Height: 10cm (4”)
  • Conditions: really well-drained, add grit to the planting hole

Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa luciliae)

Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

  • Flower: white with green markings
  • Height: 10 – 15cm (4 – 6”)
  • Conditions: humus rich, well-drained
  • Sometimes establishes better bought ‘in the green’

Snowdrop, Giant (Galanthus elwesii)

  • Flower: white with green markings
  • Height: 30 – 38cm (12 – 18”)
  • Conditions: humus rich, well-drained
  • Sometimes establishes better bought ‘in the green’

Toad Lily, Wake Robin (Trillium cuneatum)

  • Flower: maroon, white
  • Height: 25 – 30cm (10 – 12”)
  • Conditions: humus rich, well-drained, prefers alkaline soil

Toad Lily, Wake Robin (Trillium cuneatum)

Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum)

  • Flowers: white
  • Height: 25cm (10”)
  • Conditions: humus rich, well-drained
  • Cook with the leaves, can become invasive

Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum)

For more information, hints and tips on growing spring plants and bulbs just get in touch with our gardening team here in store in the Outdoor Plant department.

Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer so always used to producing something from the earth, whether it was animals or garden produce. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I also keep a few hens and grow vegetables for my own personal use. I gained a BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management. As a result of this I have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening.