The South West London Gardener

A Guide to Planting Bulbs in Autumn and Winter

autumn gardening

For many gardeners, the time to pull out the trowels and spades and get to work is when the days are getting longer, and the temperature is getting warmer.

In reality, gardening is an all-year round job, and just because the weather is getting colder, it doesn’t mean you have to stop planting bulbs.

In fact, for many great flowers, this is the perfect time.

Here at The Southwest London Gardener, we love to see people active in their gardens throughout the year, and that’s why we’ve created this handy guide on what to plant after summer in preparation for the upcoming spring.

Let’s take a look.

Is it Ever Too Late to Plant Bulbs?

Winter is a tough time for plants.

When the weather is getting colder, a frost appears on the soil, and sunlight is at a minimum, it’s not exactly the best environment for a natural garden.

If you’re worried you’ve left it too late, then fear not, as if you do it correctly, you can get your bulbs in the ground and they can live a long and happy life.

The key is picking the perfect bulbs to get in the ground, as some actually thrive in this climate.

Five Great Bulbs to Plant in The Colder Months


Tulips are a delightful species of flower due to their bright colours and long, vertical stems.

These bloom around April, and work best when planted around the late of autumn as this can help fight off tulip fire.

November is the ideal month for planting and if you can find a spot in your garden which gets a bit of sun, and keep it well drained, then you’re sure to have a lovely display of tulips come the spring.

If you’re reading this as November has passed, then don’t worry, as you can get away with planting tulips in December and January.


The aptly named snowdrop is a lovely flower that despite its relatively small size can have an amazing effect on a garden.

So, when should you plant them?

Well, the answer is varied. Snowdrops can be planted in the springtime, and when planted whilst already growing they do have great results, but they can also be planted around October and November.

These flowers don’t need a huge amount of sun and can actually be planted in the shade which makes them a great choice for gardens that lack regular sunlight.

You do need some patience for this bulb, and while the roots may form in the first few weeks, you may have to wait until the following January onwards.


A great flower to add a dash of colour to your garden is the crocus.

These bulbs are best planted around October and November time, but you can get away with planting them in December as long as the bulb still looks fresh.

There are two different types of crocus, and these either plant in the spring or the autumn.

Crocuses do like to spread out and multiply so try to make sure you have a big space to grow them in and always be open to taking some away and growing another colony somewhere else next autumn.

Winter Aconites

This perennial flower is one of the lesser-known options on our list.

That doesn’t mean it is lacking in any departments though.

These delightful yellow flowers grow up to around 10cm in height and can be planted in late autumn in order to flower around the following spring.

This is a tough plant, and comes back year on year, welcoming a new year by pushing its green shoots through the snowy months of January and February before blossoming as the weather warms up.

The yellow flowers are the perfect way to welcome the new spring and are a lovely early surprise in your garden.


Lilies are always a real stunner and always add an eye-catching touch to your flower bed.

Lilies come in a variety of colours and have around six long petals that curl away to a great effect.

These can be planted throughout winter and autumn and are another perennial which will keep brining you joy when they come into bloom every summer.

Try and plant your lilies in a sunny spot which isn’t too windy so as to give them the most protection possible to grow.

Tips on How to Plant Winter Bulbs

If you’re thinking of getting some of these bulbs in your garden this winter, then here are three top tips on how to make sure they have the best environment for growth.

  1. Provide some protection to your plants that are less tough against the winter chill. Adding a layer of mulch over the top of the soil can create a layer that will help to stop the ground underneath it from getting too cold, and this can be a big help to your bulbs as they burst into life underground before reaching the surface.
  2. Try to make your planting look natural. It can be tricky to do this when planting bulbs as you place them in the ground and out of sight, but a good trick is to toss some bulbs over the ground and plant them where they fall. This way you should get a good even spread. Always research the kind of bulb you are planting as some may benefit from having plenty of space (such as lilies) and some may survive okay closer together (crocuses).
  3. Make sure your soil is draining well. Bulbs don’t perform well in soil that is overly wet and claggy, which can be tricky to avoid in the rainier seasons of the year. Try and spread some organic materials throughout to help with drainage (you can even use something as simple as sand). Try and pick a spot that may avoid the rain as much and break your soil up so it doesn’t set too hard for the bulbs to grow.

The Joy of Autumn and Winter Gardening

If you want to enjoy your garden all year round, then making sure you’re taking some time in autumn to plant your spring bulbs and prepare your garden for winter is a must.

These delightful species all grow throughout the coldest months and bloom throughout the year to help bring your garden to life.

If you want to know any more, or would like our team to help you design and build your ideal garden, then get in touch with The Southwest London Gardener today.