How to grow bluebells in your own garden
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.
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.
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