Growing Guide: Fall-Planted Bulbs

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See our how to grow fall-planted (spring-flowing) bulbs with our handy chart

Fall-planted bulbs produce the first blooms of next year's season. The bulbs spend the winter making roots and come up early in the spring.

So if you think that autumn's the time to stop gardening, think again! It's bulb-planting time!

Tips for Planting Bulbs

  • In the fall, you'll find bulbs to purchase everywhere! Make sure you buy your bulbs from a reputable nursery, garden center, or catalog. Second-rate bulbs product second-rate flowers or don't sprout at all.
  • Plant anytime before the ground freezes. In the lower South, where you may not have hard freeze, early November is a good time to plant.
  • See the chart below for type of bulbs by hardiness zone. In the warmer South, note that some bulbs need to be treated as annuals instead of perennials (e.g., tulips); they'll bloom once and then they're done. Still, they are a beautiful sight to behold and worth it! Other bulbs (e.g., daffodils) will act as perennials and come up year after year.
  • For inspiration, visit our Flower Guides which include many common bulbs.
  • Ideally, plant your bulbs soon after you purchase them.
  • Select a site with lots of sun and well-drained soil. Work a few inches of compost in the soil.
  • Plant bulbs generously in case some do not sprout. And plant them in random order and spacing for a more natural appearance. If you love groves of daffodils and blanketed landscapes of tulips, be prepared to buy and plant a large quantity of bulbs!
  • In general, plant bulbs at a depth of three times the width of the bulb.
  • After planting, apply fertilizer low in nitrogen, such as a 9-6-6 formulation.  If your soil's sandy, plant bulbs slightly deeper; in clay soils, slightly shallower.
  • Water well after planting. Apply mulch to keep the weeds down and hold in moisture.
  • Do you have voles or chipmunks? Consider planting your bulbs in a "cage" fashioned with chicken wire.

Click to enlarge the Bulbs Growing Chart below!

Fall-Planted Bulbs Growing Chart

Also, see our chart on how to grow spring-planted bulbs!

 

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Comments

Can I put daffodil bulbs in

By Margaret g

Can I put daffodil bulbs in fridge now and plant them later? Someone just gave these to me.

Spring-flowering bulbs such

By Almanac Staff

Spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils should be planted in the fall. The bulbs usually arrive from growers in September. You can store them in a cool place for a few weeks and plant the bulbs when the ground has cooled (September through November depending on how warm your climate is).

We do not know where you live, but you've got nothing to lose by planting them whenever you get get them in the ground. They may not do much this year, or they may flower next year.

I live in region 2 (KY) if

By Grams3

I live in region 2 (KY) if transplanting day Lillie's from one spot to another, do I need to cut the stems off & just plant the bulbs. Thank you

In Kentucky, you transplant

By Almanac Staff

In Kentucky, you transplant in the early spring (February through April) or late summer (late July through the mid-September with Autumn Equinox considered the latest possible day).  When doing this in the Fall, at least 6 weeks before the first frost date is a general rule.
   Cut apart the fans at the base or crown. Cut back the foliage by at least half. You want to dig up the entire clump, including about 6 – 8 inches of soil surrounding the clump.

When is the best days to

By Billy Fitch

When is the best days to plant bulbs in region 2?

Plant spring early summer

By Almanac Staff

Plant spring early summer flowering bulbs in the fall in order to develop a root system and satisfy the cold requirement of the bulbs.  Wait until soil temperatures are below 60 F (16 C) before planting.  In places such as North Carolina (region 2), this is usually late October to November.

I planted Tulip bulbs in the

By Lacyrae

I planted Tulip bulbs in the Fall and they are emerging now! Hooray! Do I need to fertilize them throughout the Spring?

Lucky you! No, you do not

By Almanac Staff

Lucky you! No, you do not have to fertilize tulip bulbs in the spring. You could apply fertilizer low in nitrogen, such as a 9-6-6 formulation, again next autumn.

I planted my bulbs in

By Branch

I planted my bulbs in October, I live in Southern Ontario, and they have started to grow. I can see nearly all of them sprouting up through the soil. Is this okay? Will the frost kill them when it happens?

Most spring blooming bulbs

By Almanac Staff

Most spring blooming bulbs are resilient. The leaf tips may be damaged, but as long as the flower buds are below ground they will be fine come spring.

i live in massachusetts. is

By btzi

i live in massachusetts. is it too late to plant bulbs?

October is the ideal time to

By Almanac Staff

October is the ideal time to plant bulbs in your zone but you can plant up til the ground starts to freeze. Some of our readers say, "If you can get them in, they should do fine!" Most bulbs need well-drained soil and full sun. Ideally, you have loosened the soil and worked in organic matter.

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