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The Best Bulbs to Plant This Autumn

Every garden needs bulbs – they are a guarantee of spring colour. Autumn is the prime season for bulb planting as bulbs are in top condition and the soil is really workable.

Hillier offers an extensive range of bulbs, which arrive in Garden Centres from the end of August. From much-loved Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinths, Crocuses and Alliums to our Hillier Collections and some really unusual new varieties, we can help you prepare for a garden bursting with colour come spring, as well as a few of the hardy summer-flowering bulbs that can be planted in autumn.

When to Plant?

As an approximate guide, these are the best months to plant some of the most-loved bulbs:

SEPTEMBER: Hyacinths (choose prepared Hyacinths if you want them to flower in time for Christmas) and Narcissi (Daffodils) and Crocuses for spring colour

OCTOBER: Alliums for summer colour and Tulips for spring colour

NOVEMBER: Tulips for spring colour

If you are a little late with your bulbs, don’t worry: if the soil is still workable they can still be planted!

Our Star Bulbs

Our top recommended bulbs, for quality and beauty of flower, are:

  1. Narcissus ‘Tête-á-Tête’
  2. Allium ‘Purple Sensation’
  3. Galanthus ‘Nivalis’ (English Snowdrops)
  4. Tulip ‘Red Riding Hood’
  5. Tulip ‘Angelique’

Image: Narcissi ‘Tête-á-Tête’

Golden Narcissi

The word ‘daffodil’ is synonymous with ‘narcissus’. Narcissus is simply the Latin, or botanical, name. Daffodils are some of the most popular flowers due to their unmatched beauty, with their trumpet-shaped structure set against a star-shaped background.

Our best botanical Narcissi include Tête-á-Tête, Martinette and Minnow.

Image: Tulip ‘Angelique’

Top Tulips

Tulips are perhaps the most colourful and beautiful flowers with their lovely cup flowers. Hillier have over 50 different-coloured varieties. Tulip ‘Red Riding Hood’ is a classically beautiful choice, with elegant scarlet flowers. It is a variety of Greigii Tulip, all of which have distinctive variegated leaves. Another real favourite with customers is Tulip ‘Angelique’. It bears classic, feminine, soft pink flowers that look like peonies with full, slightly ruffled petals.

Image: Allium ‘Purple Sensation’

Showy Alliums

Alliums, also known as ornamental onions, are grown for their wonderfully showy flower heads. These come in wide range of sizes and shades of blue, purple, white and yellow. Our top recommendation is Allium ‘Purple Sensation’.

Image: Hyacinth ‘Delft Blue’

Prepared and Planted Hyacinths

At this time of year, Hyacinths are popular for two reasons. They are either purchased with the goal of having a beautiful flower at Christmas time or planted in the garden to flower in the spring.

If you want your Hyacinth to bring colour and scent to your home over Christmas, you need to purchase ‘prepared’ Hyacinths. Plant into pots or containers before the end of September to give them a chance of flowering for Christmas. Keep in a cool, dark room until their shoots are about 2cm tall. They should flower 10-12 weeks from potting. We have four varieties of prepared Hyacinth; City of Haarlem, Pink Pearl, Delft Blue and White Pearl.

If you want your hyacinth to bring spring colour to your garden, then plant unprepared Hyacinth varieties in rows in your borders or in containers in September. You should enjoy the first blooms in March or April. We offer four unprepared Hyacinth varieties; Woodstock, Carnegie, City of Haarlem and Delft Blue.

New and Unusual Varieties

If you are a gardener who also likes to try something new, we have some striking and unusual new varieties for you to try.

We have two attractive new Narcissus varieties in 2017.  Narcissus ‘Hungarian Rhapsody’ is a Split Corona variety (meaning the trumpet is split into distinct petals), which flowers in March-April. It has pure white petals and a deep apricot-pink, frilly centre. This is a great variety for borders or containers and can be left in the soil to naturalise and enjoy for many years. Narcissus ‘Piper’s End’ is a gorgeous, dainty variety and one of the latest daffodils to flower, appearing in May. It produces pure white flowers, with a small cup that attracts pollinating insects. It stands out in a border or container.

Also new for 2017 are two superb new varieties for garden impact. Tulip ‘Harbor Light’ is an outstanding new Double Tulip variety that flowers in late spring. It produces absolutely exceptional flowers – feather-like, creamy-white and with petals highlighted by green flames for extra flair. It is a statement plant for containers and borders and also makes an excellent cut flower. Tulip ‘Purple Peony’ is another Double Tulip variety that can be a showstopper in the garden. It produces large, peony-like blooms in late spring in vibrant violet-purple. It is long-lasting and, with its light, sweet, fragrance, this variety also makes an excellent cut flower.


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