When to plant your winter bulbs: How the UK weather could affect planting time – KEY tips

Homebase shares top 10 garden tasks for October

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Gardening in the UK can be a tough job for many Brits, with the unpredictable weather and prolonged seasons making planting times a trickier task to navigate. With the late summer heatwave followed by the sudden plummeting temperature, planting your winter bulbs might not be so straightforward this year. Express.co.uk spoke to the gardening experts to find out exactly when you should look to place your winter bulbs.

With an estimated three million Brits taking up gardening over lockdown, there are more households than ever looking for ways to make their garden thrive all year-round.

Met Office data has shown an increase of around 3.9 percent in the UK’s average annual temperatures since 2015 – proving there’s no time like the present to re-think your planting times.

Whether you’re new to gardening or you’re a self-proclaimed gardening guru, adjusting your outdoor tasks in line with the changing climate is key to secure a thriving display of plants all year-round.

Winter bulbs are just one way to sustain the beauty of your garden as the greenery fades to bleak branches through the cold months, and this is when you should be planting them.

How does the weather impact plants?

2021 has been a year of unpredictability in many ways, with the weather topping the chart.

The great British summer time appeared in full force this year, bringing with it humidity and overcast skies with a flurry of showers – wreaking havoc on the growth of our plants.

With little sunshine to nurture gardens across Britain, the delayed growing season means that many gardens are still flourishing, taking up precious planting space for those winter blooms

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk Shannon Keary, host of the ‘Diaries of a Lady Gardener’ podcast said: “The delayed growing season this year has meant that most of the beds aren’t yet free.

“It’s definitely going to be a bit of a puzzle to ensure all the bulbs go out at the right time, despite there still being lots of veg still growing and flowers blooming that I can’t bear to dig up just yet.”

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Native plants have also been affected by changing temperatures, with gardening and landscaping expert Pol Bishop pointing to the ‘drastic changes’ that gardens across Britain have seen in recent years.

While plants are known for their incredible ability to adapt to changing environments it seems that the more extreme conditions are becoming increasingly confusing to native species.

Pol told Express.co.uk: “We have witnessed quite drastic changes over the recent years.

“We are now experiencing warmer temperatures during the summer and milder winters.

“The change in climate confuses outdoor plants and encourages some to grow almost all year round which exhausts them because they don’t get the required rest time – in some cases we have even seen daffodils flowering before Christmas.”

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When to plant your winter bulbs

Autumn is still the prime time to be planting out winter bulbs in order to secure a budding display through to spring.

If you’re not keen on digging up late-flowering bulbs which have been hit by the changing weather, you can wait it out right up until the end of autumn to begin planting.

The delayed growing season may mean that some of your winter bulbs bloom a little later than usual if planted near the end of autumn.

Shannon has built up her gardening platform as a solo project, attracting thousands of podcast and Instagram followers who indulge in her allotment gardening tips and tricks.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, she said: “The key thing is to do it before the first frost – which, going by this year’s weather, could spring on us at any time!

“You want to avoid digging soils that are frozen, too sodden or bone dry where possible as it can damage the soil structure, as well as making it really difficult to get planting.”
As we welcome October, it’s a good time to get in the garden and start planting any time this month.

Edward Munson of Smith & Munson, specialist UK bulb growers in Lincs shared his top tips for perfectly planted winter bulbs.

He told Express.co.uk: “Plant your bulbs in the soil or compost twice the depth of the height of the bulb and space them at least one bulb’s width apart, with the nose of the bulb facing upwards.”

  • Do your best to cover the bulbs to prevent squirrels and rodents from digging them up.
  • Ensure you have good drainage.
  • Add horticultural grit to the bulb planting hole where required.
  • Water after planting if the soil or compost is dry.
  • Don’t forget you can plant bulbs into lawns and meadows so they naturalise and return year on year.

If you’re looking for some climate-suitable plants, experts recommend planting:

  • Aconite
  • Crocuses
  • Daffodils
  • Cyclamen
  • Paperwhites
  • Snowdrops in early autumn (right about now)

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