Often listed as scillas nutans, English bluebells' real name is in fact hyacinthoides non-scripta. Producing nodding flowers on one side of the stem, these hardy bulbs will grace the garden with a sea of scented blue flowers whilst providing much needed nectar to pollinators — truly, there is nothing to beat bluebells in the woodland garden in spring.
Scillas nutan are legally protected and should never be taken from the wild. Brought here in the 1700s, Spanish bluebells are sadly taking over as they are more adaptive to incorrect growing conditions and lack of soil nutrients. If you discover any, dig them out before they flower and make sure to remove any small bulblets — do not put them on the compost heap but destroy them to help prevent cross contamination.
Plant around 10 cm deep in moderately fertile, humus-rich, moist but well drained soil in dappled shade where they can be left undisturbed — adding plenty of leaf mould and well-rotted manure, and allowing for around 75 bulbs per square meter. Feed every couple of weeks with high potash feed; if you garden organically, liquid seaweed is ideal as it is organic and comes from a sustainable source. If planting in grass, do not cut the lawn for at least eight to ten weeks. Lift and divide congested clumps every few years.
Always unpack on arrival and store in a cool place until ready to plant. Take care! Scillas nutans can be harmful to cats, dogs and horses. Keep away from paddocks.
Potential problems, pests and diseases:
Scillas do not usually suffer from any serious diseases or pest problems. However, they may be affected by viruses. These can cause a number of problems ranging from the appearance of deformed leaves and flowers to colour patterns and streaking. It is advisable to lift and destroy any affected plant at first sight.