Gardening in October: Plant bulbs outside for spring and inside in pots for winter colour
If you haven’t already, this is the time to order or buy your spring bulbs. Plant now and you’ll have flowers from February to May. The general rule is to plant at twice the depth of the height of the bulbs, so bigger bulbs go deeper into the soil, with the pointed end up. They can be planted together, but the order of flowering is:
- January: Winter aconites
- February: Snowdrops/Crocuses
- March: Daffodils
- April: Tulips
- May: Alliums
Bulbs planted in the lawn can look pretty, but you won’t be able to mow until after the flowers are gone and the leaves yellowed. If you cut the leaves off too early, the bulb won’t be able to make the food it needs to store for growing next year. You could leave a swathe of lawn for bulbs and keep the rest of the grass cut. Another solution is to turn your lawn into a wildflower meadow so the summer flowers take over from the bulbs and grow up around them.
Lift tender summer bulbs such as gladioli and dahlias and store in a cool, dry place. Traditionally this is the month to cut back perennials, but a new school of thought says leaving the dead stems is good for wildlife and may also provide protection for the roots. Traditionalists will claim the stems harbour pests and diseases. Horticulturally it makes little difference when they’re cut back as long as it’s done before new growth starts next spring.