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Fall Planting for Spring Bulbs

Category Bulbs
To have beautiful flowering bulbs in the spring you will want to plant them in the fall. This is a page about fall planting guide for spring bulbs.


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Just wanting to share some spring flowers with you all! I guess my tip would be, "If you want this in spring, get your knees dirty in the fall and plant those bulbs!"

What a joy it is in spring when they unfold from a long winters nap!

By Deb from East Brunswick, NJ

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Fall is not the time for cold climate flower gardeners to "live in the moment." It is actually the time when planning for next spring's blooms will produce the biggest payoffs. Here is a handy guide on how to plan and plant bulbs for the first blooms of next year's season.


Plant the Right Variety:

Compile a list of suitable choices by finding out what types of bulbs grow best in your climate. All bulbs need cold weather to develop, but some are more susceptible to death or damage from freezing. Look for the biggest bulbs and make sure they are free from pits and mold. The longevity of your plantings will depend on the type of bulbs you select. Some, like tulips, are usually only bred to last from 1-3 years. Others, like galantus, will last for years. Chose bulbs carefully (early, mid and late spring bloomers) and you can enjoy flowers from bulbs long into next year's growing season.

Be careful when ordering bulbs from catalogs or from growers whose stock in not grown in your climate. Good growers will list the hardiness zones for each variety. If it isn't listed as hardy for your area, don't buy it.

Plant them at the Right Depth:

The type and size of the bulbs you are planting will determine the depth of planting. As a rule, larger bulbs need to be planted deeper than smaller bulbs. Measure the diameter of the bulb and then multiply that number by three to find the proper planting depth. Tulips are generally planted to a depth of 7-8 inches. All bulbs should be planted with their flat end (basil plate) down so their roots can grow into the soil and their tops up, since that is where the bloom will emerge.

After digging a hole to the proper depth, loosen the soil below where the bulbs will be placed. Add a bit of organic fertilizer, top it off with a bit of dirt, place the bulbs in the hole and then fill in the hole with dirt.

Plant them in Well-Drained Soil:

Bulbs need lots of water when they are first planted so they can put their energy into developing roots. They don't need much water after that, so make sure to plant them in well-drained soil.

Plant them in the Back:

After blooming, it takes a long time for foliage to die back. Planting bulbs along the back of your perennial beds will help later emerging plants hide unsightly foliage as it is dying.

Plant them in Clumps:

Bulbs planted in rows end up looking straggly because invariably one or more in a row will fail to come up. Spring bulbs will do much better and look much better if they are planted in clumps. Think circles, triangles, or oval shaped plantings for masses of color.

Plant them in Sun and Shade:

Planting bulbs in both sunny and shady areas of the garden will extend your blooming season. Sunny bulbs will emerge and bloom first.

Protect them from Freezing:

Keep bulbs from freezing and thawing over winter by mulching them with a few in inches of clean straw or raking fall leaves onto bulb beds. Include the depth of your mulch to the overall depth of your planting. You can remove the mulch in spring or let it continue decomposing into the soil.

Protect them from Critters:

One of squirrels favorite fall activities is digging up next spring's bulbs. Tacking down a bit of screen or sprinkling blood meal over beds will help deter most hungry wildlife. If you have a history of losing bulbs to foraging animals, try going heavy on daffodils. They don't need protection because their bulbs are poisonous. Animals know it and avoid them.

Here is a list of some popular fall bulbs:

Daffodils, lilies (Asiatic, Oriental, Martagon and Trumpet varieties), hyacinths, crocuses, alliums, tulips (hundreds of varieties available), galantus, snow drops, anemone, ornamental onions, and blue squall.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

I recently bought some bulbs to plant. Unfortunately winter came to zone 5 in Michigan and the ground is covered in snow. I'm not sure if the ground is frozen or not. Can I still plant them this year or is it OK to plant them next fall?


November 17, 20180 found this helpful

Your climate is a lot like mine in Pgh and I have had some luck planting when we get early winter, if it hasn't been a total freeze for a month if we just get a snow before I get out, I am usually OK if it hasn't been a hard freeze for weeks.


That said, I gave up on bulbs a few years ago when our other Pittsburgh challenge got out of control...deer....they ate up everything I planted. Even things they supposedly didn't like.

UGH! Happy planting!!!

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November 17, 20180 found this helpful

The ideal time is the fall. If you dig to the recommended depth the snow will insulate the bulbs and keep them at the correct temperature to bloom next spring.

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November 26, 20180 found this helpful

You could plant them in a container, protect the container from bottom to top and put it outdoor. Next year once their leaves will turn yellow and then dried you can put them in your garden. You can also grow them indoors in a pot.

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November 26, 20180 found this helpful

You could plant them in a container, protect the container well from bottom to top and put it outdoor. Next year once their leaves will turn yellow and then dried you can put them in your garden. You can also grow them indoors in a pot.

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November 9, 2004

Good morning all! It's now early November. :o) Starting to cool off a lot here in New York as well. However is it still a good time for bulk planting? I've many flower bulbs I'd like to see bloom during around Easter. Also, will I have to worry about wildlife consuming all my planted bulbs at all? (Like groundhogs, squirrels, or any other critters?) Thank you much. Have a good day.




November 9, 20040 found this helpful

Actually most bulbs NEED to be planted in the fall so they can over-winter and grow properly in the spring.

My mother (southern NE) will cover her beds of bulbs (she has smaller beds) with chicken wire then straw. This is pulled back in the spring and the straw put on the mulch pile. There are many guides for planting bulbs, most things depend on where, when, type of bulb.

I love going to Barnes & Nobles and reading the garden books designed for my particular area. I also love going to my favorite local nurseries and picking the brains of the gardeners there. They are a fountain of wisdom applicable to your particular planting problems. My advice is only good for people, like myself, that live in the deep deep south of Texas and our clay problems, you probably live somewhere else.

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