How to Grow Bluebells

Tips on how to grow bluebells, a native British wildflower that’s not only fragrant and beautiful but an important source of food for pollinators.

Grow Bluebells in your garden for early blooms that attract wildlife and give a splash of early colour.
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Bluebells aren’t Britain’s favourite flower for nothing. They’re vibrantly purple, have an intoxicating scent, and come up year after year with very little maintenance. They’re also a very important source of nectar for bees and butterflies and are some of the best cut flowers I can think of. They last ages and will fill a room with sweet fragrance.

Up to half of the world’s bluebells grow in Britain and though it is a wildflower, it adapts quite readily to our gardens and borders. Once planted, the bulbs will increase over the years and swathes of blue will take over parts of your outdoor space. From late April to the end of May they celebrate early spring with their gently bobbing bells then they slowly fade away for another year.

Tips on How to Grow Bluebells

You grow bluebells mainly from bulbs. Either buy dry bulbs in autumn and plant each about six inches deep and six inches apart. The best place to plant them is in moist, acidic, soil under deciduous trees and shrubs. They grow and blossom before the green leaves on their taller neighbours appear.

Bluebells growing as a naturalized drift down one side of my garden

You can also transplant bluebells ‘in the green’, meaning when they’re bearing leaves and flowers. Don’t dig them from wild areas though. One of the biggest threat to wild bluebells is people digging them up for their gardens. Instead, buy them from garden centres or get them from a friend’s garden.

Once planted, it can take time for them to become established but they can, over time, form large swathes. They’re also a a perennial and can be left in-situ to come up year after year. Once the flowers are spent, leave the green leaves to grow and fill the bulbs with nutrients. Don’t cut the leaves down until they are fully yellow.

Grow Bluebells in your garden for early blooms that attract wildlife and give a splash of early colour.

Flower Growing Inspiration

Bluebells in my Garden

The bluebells in my garden were there when I arrived. By their sheer numbers I think they must have been planted decades ago. For most of the growing year you wouldn’t even guess their small white bulbs were lurking under the surface. That is, until you accidentally dig them up while working in the border!

Grow Bluebells in your garden for early blooms that attract wildlife and give a splash of early colour.

Bluebells cling to the sides of the garden where the soil is the most moist. In the wild you’ll often find them in shady woodlands and glens and sometimes sharing space with wild garlic. I literally give them no thought or special care at all except to admire their beauty, pick them as cut flowers, and then look forward to them appearing again the following spring.

Grow Bluebells in your garden for early blooms that attract wildlife and give a splash of early colour.

More on Bluebells

  • In folklore they were known as ‘Fairy Flowers’. It was believed fairies used them to trap passers by – especially children!
  • There are two main types: native British bluebells and Spanish bluebells
  • Spanish bluebells are considered a threat to British bluebells in the wild. If you grow them, ensure that they can’t spread outside your garden.
  • Bluebells can be purple, white, or pink – these more unusual colours are considered rare
  • Up to half of the world’s bluebells are in Britain
  • Bluebells are poisonous and should not be eaten
  • They make excellent cut flowers
  • Bluebell flowers are an important source of nectar for beneficial insects

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One Comment

  1. There are bluebells coming up around the yard and I’m so pleased to have found this website which has encouraged me to attempt transplants (in the green) although they are mostly in flower.
    BTW i’m in north Connemara, Co Galway.