Winter bulbs – the easy way to lighten up your garden

Many people don’t realise that you can have bulbs flowering in your garden throughout the year. All it takes is a bit of planning and a sprinkle of imagination.

Winter flowering bulbs

Bulbs are a great way of brightening up your garden in the winter, and with very little work required they are also easy to maintain. By planting the right bulbs at the right time you can enjoy a variety of colours throughout the year, including in the depths of winter. Our list of the top eight bulbs for winter should provide you with a useful starting point.

Crocus ochroleucus – straw-coloured crocus

This is a great winter flowering bulb to plant on banks, slopes or in garden gravel. Its flowers are often goblet shaped and are fragrant in the autumn and early spring. During the summer it will be dormant, meaning you won’t need to water. No pruning is required either, so all you need to do is grow it outdoors in gritty, moderately fertile soil.

Dierama pendulum – Grassy bells, Wandflower

These evergreen, clump-forming cormous perennials have long, narrow leaves that grow from arching stems and produce bell-shaped flowers. They are late winter bloomers, so expect them to flower around February time.

Cyclamen Sierra Scarlet

These are also fantastic patio plants and should be grown inside at around 16oC. They need bright light and moderate humidity, and when in growth you should water and apply nitrogen liquid fertiliser fortnightly. As the name indicates, they are vibrant, with five reflexed and twisted petals that are crimson with maroon around the mouth.

Iris reticulata – Early bulbous iris

Just 15cm in height with narrow leaves and violet-purple flowers; this is an ideal bulb for winter flower borders and rock gardens. Should be grown in well-drained, neutral soil and sown in pots in the spring before you lift and separate the bulbs in autumn.

Crocus sieberi subsp. atticus – Crocus Firefly

The Firefly is a free-flowering bulb plant that has linear leaves and very pale (almost white) violet flowers that have a bold yellow throat. They open mainly in late winter, early spring, so they can be added to your rock garden or flower borders in time for February and March.

Dierama pulcherrimum – Blackbird

The Blackbird produces deep purple flowers that are perfect for winter gardens. Forming a stunning bell shape with long leaves, they are at their best towards the end of winter.

Galanthus plicatus – Snowdrop Florence Baker

Snowdrop Florence Baker grows to about 20cm tall and flowers in mid-winter, producing large, white flowers supported by grey-green leaves. They are easy to maintain with no pruning required, and need to grow in moist soil that won’t dry out in the summer. Can be used on flower borders and beds, as well as for underplanting for roses and shrubs.

Eranthis hyemalis – Winter aconite orange glow

This pretty bulb forms small clumps of rounded basal leaves with deep yellow flowers. They open in late winter and will perfectly complement the daffodils.