Save time – and your back – by placing bulbs, tip end up, on top of the planting bed, then covering with a layer of several inches of soil, instead of digging individual holes for bulbs. Don’t worry if the bulbs tip over; they will work themselves upright.
A garden of yellow tulips and daffodils blossom in this cottage style garden. Planting bulbs separately from other blooming shrubs allows the tulips and daffodils' beautiful blooms to be the focus and so they don't compete with other flowers.
You could almost mistake beautiful ranunculi for roses. If you live in USDA zones 8-10, plant the bulbs 2" deep in the fall. In cooler climates, ranunculus won’t survive the winter, so wait until spring to tuck them into the garden or containers, and expect the blooms to open in late summer. (You'll need to buy new bulbs next spring.) Plant the bulbs with the claw-shaped side facing down.
Dutch hyacinth is a fragrance powerhouse. Its stocky blooms open in midspring, around the time that daffodils are hitting their stride. The blooms release a rich, full fragrance that can fill the spring garden. Indoors, pots of forced hyacinths bring spring scents to life in the heart of winter. Plant bulbs in fall for a spring show in the garden. Choose flower colors in many shades, including purple, blue, pink, salmon, white and red. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
Dutch hyacinth is a fragrance powerhouse in the garden. Its stocky blooms open in midspring, around the time that daffodils strut their stuff. The blooms release a rich, full fragrance that can fill the spring garden. Indoors, pots of forced hyacinths bring spring scents to life in the heart of winter. Plant bulbs in fall for a spring show in the garden. Choose flower colors in many shades, including pink, purple, blue, salmon, white and red. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
Fall is the time to plant flowering bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips, as well as perennials, trees and shrubs, according to the National Association of Landscape Professionals. The warm soil is great for root development, and plants have several months to establish themselves before the stress of the summer heat.
Plant garlic bulbs in fall for a harvest the following midsummer. Aim to get bulbs in the ground 4 to 8 weeks before the soil freezes. Mulch the planting area with a thick layer of straw or chopped leaves. Get your mulch on before the ground freezes. This keeps soil warmer longer so roots can sink into soil.
After you plant your bulbs in the fall, top dress them with a balanced 10-10-10 or 10-15-10 slow-release fertilizer or a product formulated especially for bulbs. Feed again in the spring, as soon as new growth emerges from the ground. Mix the fertilizer into the soil to avoid burning the bulbs.
Paperwhites, or narcissus, are often forced (that is, made to flower outside their normal flowering period) for the holidays. After forcing, they seldom rebloom. You can try planting the bulbs in your garden after all danger of frost has passed, but it’s easier to toss them into the compost pile and start with fresh, new bulbs next year. When grown in the garden, paperwhites need sun and well-drained soil.
Lily bulbs lack an outer protective, papery layer. They’re often sold packed in sawdust or peat moss. It’s important to store lily bulbs correctly prior to planting because they have no outer layer that helps protect against moisture loss or temperature fluctuations. Keep lily bulbs cool (below 45 degrees F) but not freezing to help prevent sprouting. If sprouts form prior to planting, handle bulbs carefully. If you break the sprout, the lily won’t flower that year.
Plant crocus bulbs just underneath your grass in fall for early spring color. 'Hokus Crocus,' shown here, is a mix of purple, white and purple-white striped varieties. These dainty flowers like a sunny garden spot and typically multiply as time goes by. Wait six to eight weeks before you mow over their foliage so you'll have repeat blooms next year. (The small bulbs usually flower before the grass needs mowing anyway, and the thin, narrow leaves blend in with your lawn.)
For best results, plant tulip bulbs, pointed ends up, about 6-8 weeks before the first hard frost in your area. Larger bulbs should be planted deeper (usually 8-10” deep) than smaller ones (usually 5-6” deep). Because tulips need a certain amount of cold weather to flower, they may not come back after the first year or two. If you live in a mild climate, ask your local county extension service agent if you should buy pre-chilled tulip bulbs, or chill them yourself, in your refrigerator, before you plant.
When tulips, daffodils and lilies burst into bloom, you’re probably not thinking much about the part of the plant that’s underground: the bulb. Flower bulbs are actually a type of food storage organ, a way that plants stash their homemade nosh to help fuel future growth and flowers. Many plants get lumped under the heading bulbs, including tubers, corms and rhizomes. Knowing a little about different types of bulbs can help you understand how these plants grow—and how you should handle them at planting time.