All About Fall Bulbs

Early spring, everyone gets a little giddy when the tulips, daffodils and hyacinth start to show signs of life after a long, cold winter. It never fails that we get asked “Are your bulbs in yet?” 

Although the plants are blooming in spring, they’re actually fall bulbs and need to be planted near the end of September or later.

Fall Bulbs need approximately 12-16 weeks of cold weather to properly develop flower buds come spring.

When planting fall bulbs, you want to keep an eye on the weather to make sure day time temperatures are consistently in the 60’s or lower.

 If the weather is too warm, it can cause premature growth, rotting bulbs, or poor development of the root system.

When in doubt, it’s better to wait until a light frost before planting, just make sure to get them in the ground before a hard freeze! (If you can dig a hole, you can still plant).

In addition to planting, fall is the best time to split or move existing bulbs.

Steps To Bulb Planting Success

  • Check your soil – Make sure you are planting in an area with well draining soil. If the soil is dense, amend the soil with some peat moss or perlite to increase drainage.
  • Plant your bulb at the proper depth – It is a good idea to keep the package of your bulbs to help determine the proper planting depth. As a general rule, plant the bulb 2-3 times the height of the bulb. (Example a 2” bulb will need to be planted 4-6” deep) It is better to plant too deep rather than not deep enough.
  • When planting your bulbs, make sure to plant the pointed end of the bulb towards the sky. If it is hard to distinguish which side is pointed, you can look for remnants of dried roots to indicate the bottom.
  • If after a full examination of the bulb you still can’t determine top from bottom, plant the bulb sideways. The plant will correct itself and find its way to the surface.
  • In addition to proper depth, the bulb package will give you the proper spacing to plant your bulbs. You can space bulbs closer or further apart than recommended.
  • Dense plantings will have a bold impact when blooming but can affect the bulbs from coming back as strong the following season, and may need to be divided sooner.
  • Once bulbs have been spaced, cover with soil and sprinkle some bone meal on top of the soil. This will help promote strong root development.
  • Finally, water thoroughly. Do not water after the initial planting as the bulbs are dormant and excessive water could rot out bulbs.


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