Bulbs in clay and flooded soil

Planting bulbs in clay soil

Bulbs must be planted in light ground if they are to develop properly. However, the soil of some gardens is clay and often waterlogged during the winter months.

Follow our advice and you will be able to see your bulbs bloom even in wet and waterlogged soil:

Bulbs in clay and flooded soil

In this type of soil, what is most damaging to bulbs is that they sit in water for extended periods of time.
They start to rot and thus are not able to develop into a plant that blooms.

Planting bulbs in clay soil directly

If you increase soil drainage, you should succeed in growing any kind of bulbous plant.

  • Symptoms of clay soil are flakes appearing when dryFirst, you must dig a deeper hole than you normally would with light soil.
    The hole must be at least 8 inches (20 cm) deep.
  • At the bottom of the hole, spread a layer of gravel or clay pebbles about 2 inches (5 cm) thick.
    That will let water drain down and not stagnate at root level anymore.
  • Atop this first layer, add a second layer of soil mix or garden soil mixed with sand. This layer should also be about 2 inches (5 cm) thick.
  • Place your bulbs. Choose healthy bulbs, as described here for tulip.
  • Fill in with the same mix of sand and soil.
  • Press down lightly, and add more if needed.

If you follow this technique, you’ll be prepared to face any bad weather that might flood your soil.
And you’ll have the great joy of seeing your flowers bloom all over the garden!

Recycle excess soil into raised flower beds

When you do this for a lot of bulbs, you end up with quite a lot of excess soil. Don’t just toss it to the side: build up a raised bed nearby! This will add volume to your lot, giving you more opportunities to play with perspective as you envision different layouts.

In the raised beds, follow the same rules strictly as above, and you’ll effortlessly grow all sorts of bulbs in there, too:

  • add pebbles or gravel for drainage along the entire bottom of the bed
  • in the raised portions, use the same mix of garden soil and sand.

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Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Gardening with a smile by Wilfried Overwater thanks to iBulb
Peeling soil is often clay by Ulrike Leone under Pixabay license