Skip to content

How to grow bluebells in your own garden

Bluebells in May at Blickling Estate, Norfolk
Bluebells in May at Blickling Estate | © National Trust Images/John Millar

The bluebell is one of the nation's favourite wild flowers and National Trust gardeners take great care of these special plants at many of the places we look after. Read on to discover some of their top tips for growing bluebells in your own garden.

Which are better: seeds or bulbs?

Bluebell seeds can take several years to reach flowering size, so it’s better to buy bulbs. In spring you can get bluebells while they’re flowering (also called ‘in the green’), which many gardeners believe have a better chance of establishing well. Alternatively you can buy them as dry bulbs to plant in autumn.

Where can I buy bluebells?

You can buy bluebell plants from garden centres. Always try to buy native English bluebells rather than Spanish or hybrid ones which can take over in a garden and escape into the countryside.

It’s illegal to pick or dig up wild bluebells so make sure your new plants have been cultivated by a reputable source and that they haven’t been imported from abroad.

Where's best to plant bluebells?

Bluebells are woodland plants, so they grow best in partial shade with moist but well-drained soil. Adding leaf mould, manure or garden compost to the soil will ensure they have plenty of nutrients. Try planting them in clumps under deciduous trees or shrubs to create a mini-woodland effect.

Planting tips

Plant ‘in the green’ bluebells at the same depth they were previously grown – you can often see this where the leaf stalks change from white to green.

If you’re using dry bulbs, place them 10cm deep and 10cm apart, with the pointed tip facing upwards.

Be prepared to wait

Bluebells take a while to get established, so don’t be disheartened if you only get leaves the first year. The plant will be putting most of its energy into producing roots rather than flowers.

Leave the foliage to die back rather than cutting it off – the leaves convert sunlight into energy which they store in their bulbs for the following year.

Gardener working in the walled garden at Mottisfont, Hampshire

Get gardening

Our gardeners are on hand with ideas for your garden, plot or window box. From planting veg to tackling weeds, they’ve got all the important topics covered.

You might also be interested in

A close up of some bluebells in the rain

A guide to bluebells in the UK 

Discover how the native British bluebell differs from the Spanish variety, and find out how this wild flower has been used in medicines and inspired storytellers for centuries.

Bluebells at sunrise in the Great Wood at Blickling Estate, Norfolk

How we care for bluebells 

Find out how we work to look after the UK’s bluebell population and what you can do to help us protect this much-loved wild flower.

A volunteer mulches the rose garden border alongside a wall at Polesden Lacey, Surrey, with a big clump of daffodils blooming alongside

How to grow daffodils 

The daffodil is a classic spring flower. Take expert tips from National Trust gardeners to achieve a cheery daffodil display in your own garden.

A close-up of snowdrops at Ickworth in Suffolk

Top tips for growing snowdrops in your own garden 

Discover some top tips for growing common snowdrops in your outdoor space. Find out when, where and how to plant your snowdrops to end up with your own carpet of white flowers every spring.

Gardener picking fennel from the vegetable garden at Speke Hall, Liverpool

Guide to seasonal food 

Grow your own fruit and vegetables and help the environment by reducing food miles. Find out what to harvest, plant and buy each month with our handy guide to seasonal food.

Gardeners adding compost to the beds at Nymans, West Sussex

How to make your own compost 

Follow these simple steps to make your own nutrient-packed compost at home. Learn about the qualities of good compost and find out top tips, including how to turn your heap and build your compost beds.

Ancient trees at Killerton, Devon

Trees and plants 

Discover the world of trees and plants across the 25,000 hectares of woodland, 135 landscape sites and more than 200 gardens in National Trust care.

A walker has just crossed a wooden footbridge over a stream, amid dense woodland, at Dibden Bottom on Ibsley Common, New Forest Northern Commons, Hampshire

Countryside and woodland 

Plan a visit to one of the special countryside places in our care and discover the benefits of being in the great outdoors. Pack your walking boots and get ready to explore woodlands, valleys and rivers.