English Bluebells - Hyacinthoids non-scripta

 

September through November is the best time to plant bluebells but they can be planted well into spring. If planting this late you should not expect flowers in the first year.

Plant the bulbs 4" deep and 3 - 4" apart, it is difficult to determine the right way up to plant bluebell bulbs but rest assured they will find their way.

Churning the soil to at least six inches before planting will give their roots a much better chance of penetrating the soil when they germinate. Do not compact down the soil beneath the bulbs.

Tip: For a more naturalised effect, throw handfulls of them in the air and plant them where they land!

After blooming, you can cut the withered flower at the top of the stem to prevent seed production or you can allow seed production if you wish to collect them and plant them for more flowers (bluebell seeds require many years before they become a flowering size) Allow the foliage to wither and turn brown before removing them. The green leaves provide nourishment for the bulbs and must be allowed to die back naturally.

 

The differences between English and Spanish bluebells?

The Spanish bluebell, commonly grown in our gardens, is more vigorous than our native species and can crossbreed with the native to create a fertile hybrid. It is generally viewed to be invasive and undesirable.

Native bluebells...

  • have narrow leaves, usually about 1cm or 1.5cm wide,
  • have deep blue (sometimes white, rarely pink), narrow, tube-like flowers, with the very tips curled right back.
  • have flowers mostly on one side of the stem only, and distinctly drooping, or nodding, at the top
  • have a distinct, sweetish scent
  • Inside the flowers, the anthers with the pollen are usually cream.

Spanish bluebells...

  • have broad leaves often 3cm wide
  • have paler blue (quite often pink and white ones too), conical or bell-shaped flowers that have spread-out tips.
  • have flowers all round the upright stem
  • have almost no scent
  • Inside the flowers, the anthers with the pollen usually blue