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blue bell seeds

Cultivating bluebells

Native bluebells will flower in late April and May, and produce the wonderful sea of blue seen on the woodland floors of the British Isles.

Although they are a woodland flower, bluebells will survive happily in full sunshine.

Planting bluebell bulbs

Bluebell bulbs should be planted in the autumn. Mature bulbs which will flower are generally 4 years old or older, and these should be planted about 6 inches deep and at the density you choose—anything from about 160/m 2 to 500/m 2 will give a good or very good intensity of blue.

One of the advantages of buying from us is that we also supply 2 and 3 year old bulbs. These will take longer to reach full flowering, but they are lower in price and easier to plant—2 year olds simply need to be worked into or dropped into scoops in the first couple of inches of soil, whilst 3 year olds can be planted at 3 or 4 inches depth. These younger bulbs will save you money and time!

Bluebells will survive happily in full sunshine

Using a combination of different bulb ages will provide some flowers in the first year, with flowering increasing in following years as younger bulbs mature. This is a particularly good approach if you have a large area to plant.

Sowing bluebell seed

Sowing bluebell seed is much easier than planting bulbs—seed can be scattered at a rate of 160-500/m 2 in autumn.

6-10 weeks after sowing the radicles are elongated and about 4-6cm in length

Depending on your situation and levels of shade, weed control may be necessary. The seed should germinate pretty soon and, though you will see a few flowers in the third spring, full flowering will occur in the fourth spring.

Combination planting and sowing

If you have a large area to plant we can help you save money and get speedy results. One way to do this is to order a combination of bulb ages.

Small woodland example

Let’s say you have a 4 x 5m patch ready to become woodland.

200x 4-yr-olds £45.00
1000x 3-yr-olds £80.00
2000x 2-yr-olds £80.00

This way you’ll have (approximately) 400 flowering specimens in spring, 1600 the following spring, and 3200 the spring after that. This works on the basis that about 20% of 3-yr-olds will flower.

Total £205.00 (saving of £440.00)

That’s 3200 bulbs for £205.00 — 3200x 4-yr-olds would be £640.00

This is enough to plant 20m 2 at a rate of 160 bluebells/m 2 , which will give an excellent blue covering in spring. For more intense blue increase the rate—it can be as much as 500 bluebells/m 2 in the wild. Alternatively lower the rate and allow the plants to spread over the years.

The 2-yr-olds also provide an economical way of obtaining a high density of plants and so producing the really vivid sheets of blue seen in favourable habitats.

Another advantage of ordering three-year-old and two-year-old bulbs is the ease of planting. The 3-yr-olds can be planted less deep than 4-yr-olds, saving labour. Planting 2-yr-olds offers a great advantage in that they can be planted in shallow scoops. The time (and therefore financial) savings are considerable—a roadside cutting planting which would traditionally be very expensive becomes great value, making a dramatic positive effect on the roadside environment a viable and real prospect:

Roadside cutting example

Let’s say the desired final density of bluebells is 160/m 2 , all flowering within 2½ years of planting. We would recommend per square metre:

10x 4-yr-olds £2.00
50x 3-yr-olds £4.00
100x 2-yr-olds £4.00

Around 12.5% flowering will occur in the first spring, 50% in the next spring, followed by 100% in the third spring.

Total £10.00/m 2

In the examples above please note that all figures are approximate as plants will develop at different rates in different locations and in different years. For instance, a north facing slope of a cutting in a below average temperature year will take longer to reach maximum flowering.

Save time and money

Planting a combination of 2, 3 and 4 year old bulbs will save you money and still get quick results. Seed, which offers great value if you are willing to wait at least four years for decent flowering, can be sown instead of or as well as bulbs.

Management

Bluebells will survive happily in full sunshine provided they are not choked by weeds and coarse grasses. These are kept at bay in a natural bluebell wood by summer shade from mid May-November. If natural shade does not occur in the planting situation, such coarse competitive growth must be dealt with by other means if establishment is to be successful—for example a weed control program.

Spanish Bluebells

The Spanish Bluebell, Hyacinthoides hispanica, poses a threat to native british bluebells in that the two readily hybridise. The hybrids can exhibit a whole range of intermediate features and as such can be difficult to identify. Their presence changes the native stock. Our bluebells are not spanish and there are no hybrids either, just pure native stock. We have a licence to prove this. You can read more about the spanish hybrids by following the links below:

How to grow bluebells by planting bulbs and sowing seed. Create your own wonderful sea of blue seen on the woodland floors of the British Isles in spring.

Hyacinthoides non-scripta – Bluebell

A deep blue carpet of Bluebells is an unforgettable sight to anyone visiting a British woodland in spring. Although this short/medium height bulbous perennial is extremely familiar it is worth pointing out the differences between it, the Spanish bluebell H. hispanica and the much planted hybrid H. x massartiana. The two most reliable ways to identify a true native Bluebell are to check that its anthers are cream, not pale blue and that the inflorescence drops at the tip and has flowers hanging to one side. For more information check the BSBI website at www.bsbi.org.uk/html/hyacinthoides_non-scripta.html.

Type Seeds per gram Origin Ordering
Woodland perennial 120 Somerset, Cumbria, Staffordshire, Carmarthenshire Order this species

Habitat Information
Bluebells can be found in hedgerows, under bracken and occasionally in grassland, particularly on the west coast and in some upland meadows. However, bluebells are primarily plants of deciduous woodland, particularly those on moist, free draining soils. It avoids the deep shade found in woods by completing its annual growth phase early in the year before the tree canopy has fully developed. As a bluebell plant grows and develops its bulb is gradually drawn down through the soil by contractile roots and can end up as far as 250mm below the surface. At these depths it is prone to waterlogging which is why it tends to be replaced by Ramsons in woodlands on heavier soils.

Growing Information
The seed, which is naturally shed from July to August, requires moist warm conditions followed by a period of chilling before germination can take place. For this reason the ideal time to sow seed is probably in late summer, but with time, it will establish from seed sown at any time of the year. Sown seed may take 9 – 24 months to germinate. From germination to flowering normally takes about five years as the plant first has to grow a bulb.

In deciduous woodlands or plantations that cast enough shade to prevent grass growth in summer, the cheapest way to establish Bluebell is from seed. It does require patience but it gives the most naturalistic effect. If you do decide to plant bulbs please make sure they are from a licensed dealer. Despite changes in the law and recent publicity, woodlands are still being illegally raided for their bulbs.

Ordering

You can order any quantity of this species from 1g up to 250g. Please contact us if you require more.

nb: 1kg = 1000g, 0.1kg = 100g

Prices include p&p to most mainland destinations, more on delivery charges.

Hyacinthoides non-scripta – Bluebell A deep blue carpet of Bluebells is an unforgettable sight to anyone visiting a British woodland in spring. Although this short/medium height bulbous