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Blue-flowering bulbs

Blue bulbs

Blue is one of my favourite colours in the garden. Every year, I eagerly scour catalogues and flower-show exhibits for new varieties of blue-flowering bulbs. Plan ahead so you can enjoy a sea of blue in February, before the daffodils and tulips reappear.

Grow bluebells from seed

Carol's tips for buying bulbs

Only buy bulbs from a reputable bulb merchant, garden centre or nursery, to ensure they haven't been taken from the wild. When buying from bulb catalogues, place your order early. Plan what to buy on the basis of what will thrive in your garden, rather than what looks prettiest in the catalogue.

It's best to limit yourself to buying just a few varieties in the largest quantities you can afford. Plant for maximum impact, but not too intensively in show-off numbers, especially under trees or shrubs. Aim to make plantings look natural.

When your bulbs arrive, keep them in a cool, dry place and plant them as promptly as possible. Check new bulbs to make sure they are firm - discard any that are shrivelled or soft.

Here is a list of my favourite blue-flowering bulbs:


Muscari armeniacum

Muscari armeniacum
The grape hyacinth can become invasive, but it's one of the most amenable of all bulbs, seeding itself in corners where nothing else will grow. Its foliage can be untidy, but the wealth of blue flowers it produces makes it one of my favourites. It does well in sun or shade. Height 20cm.

Scilla siberica

Scilla siberica
The Siberian squill's fairy-hat flowers of deep indigo blue are held four or five to a stem. They're ideal for a large rock garden or en masse between trees. Each bulb produces several flower stems. 'Spring Beauty' is a readily available variety with flowers of an even more intense blue. Height 20cm.

Chionodoxa luciliae

Chionodoxa luciliae
As deep a blue as any Caribbean bay or Mediterranean sky, Chionodoxa luciliae creates a blue haze under trees or naturalised in grass. If you do plant it in a lawn, don't mow too early. Give it a chance to set seed and you'll have even more to enjoy the following year. Height 15cm.

Chionodoxa sardensis

Chionodoxa sardensis
Living up to its common name of glory of the snow, this bulb comes into flower early. In Devon I've seen it pushing its bright blue, white-centred stars up through snow in a little cultivated wood. It spreads every year and forms a glorious blue carpet beneath the trees. Height 20cm.

Tecophilaea cyanocrocus

Tecophilaea cyanocrocus
Sometimes called the Chilean crocus, this scintillating blue flower is very rare, due to being over-collected in the wild. Cultivated stocks have increased, but are expensive. If you take the plunge, try it in pots of gritty, well-drained compost and keep in a cold greenhouse. Height 10cm.

Ipheion uniflorum 'Wisley Blue'

Ipheion uniflorum 'Wisley Blue'
As a species, Ipheion uniflorum can look a bit wishy-washy, but 'Wisley Blue' is very pretty. Its flowers are like big, upward-facing blue stars. Plant it among sun-loving alpines, placing the bulbs close together, about 8cm deep, in a sunny position. You'll soon be able to divide the clumps. Height 20cm.

Muscari azureum

Muscari azureum
Easy to grow, this grape hyacinth has charming conical heads of palest blue flowers that set it apart from the deeper blue of most muscari. Team it with silver-leaved lambs' ears (Stachys byzantina), artemisias or anaphalis. It'll do best in light soils in an open site. Height 10cm.

Anemone blanda

Anemone blanda
The small, Mediterranean Anemone blanda prefers a sunny spot, and looks best planted on its own. Soak the corms overnight, then plant them a few inches apart in small groups or in bold drifts. They're reasonably priced, so you don't need to spend much to get maximum impact. Height 15cm.

x Chionoscilla allenii

x Chionoscilla allenii
A natural hybrid between a scilla and a chionodoxa, this bulb produces brilliant blue spring flowers. Originating in Turkey, it's happy growing out in the open at the front of a border or in the shade between shrubs. For a simple look, plant it between clumps of primroses, Primula vulgaris. Height 20cm.

Scilla mischtschenkoana

Scilla mischtschenkoana
This is one of the first bulbs to flower each year. Hot on the heels of the snowdrop, it lights up the garden with pale blue blooms. Plant it in drifts under trees or in a rock garden, where it will naturalise readily. It grows slightly taller in shade, avoiding the attentions of slugs. Height 15cm.



Discuss this plant feature

Talkback: Blue-flowering bulbs
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norma 24/11/2011 at 15:27

A great feature. Found most that I was looking for.
Loved Carol's Blue bulbs.

chrismac 24/11/2011 at 15:28

Great article by Carol- was just thinking today how my new garden lacked anything blue. All the rhodies and the azaleas are pink or white and allthe spring bulbs were yellow and white - not a single blue - next year it will be different, just the incentive I needed, Now I need some good strong reds and I will be happy!

pinkpoodlebear 24/11/2011 at 15:28

Love all the blue bulbs, would any of these grow in clay soil. Very new to gardening so grateful for any advice. Thanks

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