Fall Bulbs: Planting for Spring Flowers

How and When to Plant Fall Bulbs

Pink Tulips

Plant flower bulbs in the fall for a garden full of colorful blossoms in the spring! See our handy fall-planted bulbs chart for a listen of bulbs for your zone, including daffodils, tulips, crocus, hyacincth and more.

It’s important to plant these bulbs now in the fall to give them ample time to grow roots during winter and come up early in the spring.

So, if you think that autumn’s the time to stop gardening, think again! There still a lot of work to be done—right now, it’s bulb-planting time!

Fall-Planted Flower Bulbs

In the fall, you’ll find bulbs to purchase everywhere. Make sure you buy your bulbs from a reputable nursery, garden center, or mail-order seed catalog in time for fall shipping. Remember, second-rate bulbs produce second-rate flowers or don’t sprout at all. Don’t forget to plant extra for cutting so you can bring some of that spring color indoors. 

Here are some of the most popular fall-planted bulbs, which all produce lovely spring flowers. See the chart farther down the page for planting information on these and other spring flower favorites.

Flower bulbs

When to Plant Bulbs:

  • Plant fall bulbs after the heat of summer has passed, but before the ground freezes. Consult our Frost Dates Calculator to see when the first fall frost will be in your area. In the lower South, where you may not have a hard freeze, early November is a good time to plant.
  • Ideally, plant your bulbs soon after you purchase them.
  • 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; they’ll bloom once and then they’re done. For example, you will have to plant tulip bulbs again each year. Still, they are a beautiful sight to behold and well worth the effort! Other fall bulbs, such as daffodils, will act as perennials and come up year after year.

Fall Bulbs Planting Chart

Click to enlarge the Bulbs Growing Chart below!

Fall-Planted Bulbs Growing Chart

How to Plant Bulbs:

  • Select a site with lots of sun and well-drained soil. Work a few inches of compost into the soil before planting.
  • Bulbs love great planted in a grove, near the mailbox, as swaths of colors in garden beds, and as colorful borders.
  • 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 is 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 squirrels? Consider planting your bulbs in a “cage” fashioned with chicken wire. Also, check out our tips for preventing vole damage and squirrel damage. Or try planting some rodent-proof bulbs.

Now that you’ve mastered the art of the fall bulb, check out our page on how to grow spring-planted bulbs!

Reader Comments

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cutting daffodils

I was told if I cut a daffodil bloom that that bulb won't flower again. Is that true.

How often daffodils bloom

Yes, that’s true. Daffodils bloom once a year. Their bloom will last 6 weeks to 6 months, depending on the variety and your location. After blooming, do not cut off the leaves if you want blooms next year. The plant needs to rebuild its bulb. The leaves stay green while this is happening. When the leaves begin to yellow, then you can cut the leaves off but not before.

Late planting of bulbs ?

Help! Is it too late to plant my spring flowering bulbs ? We got too busy remodeling the house and forgot about them in the garage in a paper bag.

Planting Bulbs in Winter

Planting spring-flowering bulbs as late as January or February typically results in sub-par blooms, as the bulbs have not had enough time to root before blooming. 

You could try forcing the bulbs to bloom inside or planting in mulch.

Potting a bulb

Hello I’m new to gardening and was wondering if it’s okay to plant bulbs into a pot or does it have to be planted out in a yard?

bulbs in containers

You can definitely plant bulbs in containers, even force them to bloom indoors for a special occasion. The following articles give you some tips on forcing bulbs:

Bulbs can be grown outside in containers, too. Just follow the same directions as if planting in the ground, for depth, spacing, etc., choosing a soil mix that drains well and gives enough depth and width to accommodate the number of bulbs you wish to plant in the container. If you live in a cold climate, you’ll need to either select a pot that can be stored outdoors over winter, and protect it with insulation such as several inches of straw, or you can move it to an unheated garage. Water less frequently in winter. When growth starts in spring, remove the mulch and move the pot outdoors once temperatures are warm enough to make your particular bulb happy. When your bulbs are growing, be sure your pot is placed in the appropriate light, and check the water requirements for the bulb(s) you have. Some bulbs, such as summer bulbs, will like warm temperatures. Other bulbs require a chilling period over winter to encourage spring blooms next year.

Just a tip if anyone bothers

Just a tip if anyone bothers to read these comments, don't plant bulbs where you mow. Because it is a pain to mow around the standing foliage after the flowers have faded. Remember for 6 weeks to leave the leaves, so plant out of the way.


When do I plant daffodil bulbs in San Francisco where the climate is mild and there is no frost?

Daffodils in California

The area around San Francisco ranges from Zones 9b–10b, which means it would be best to plant your daffodil bulbs in early to mid November.

Planting bulbs as well as daylillies

My question is, I live n SE NC but am planning to share bulbs and daylillies with a friend in the Cincinnati, OH area. My thought is plant bulbs later Oct, but uncertain about the daylillies and will they winter over ok. Also amaryllis bulbs and succulents. Where we are, it's not an issue but my friend has a new house with a big yard.

Nothing Ventured ...

Hi, Renee: What a pleasure to respond to someone with your last name! Tulip bulbs really should have at least a few weeks in the soil before the first hard frost, and conditions are optimum if the soil temperature is above 60 degrees, but if your ground is not yet frozen, you might as well put them in and give it a shot (and hope for a mild December!). Thanks for asking!

Live In Cleveland OH

We tulips that we ordered but haven't planted them yet.Can we still plant them? Thank you.

We live in zone 8b, between

We live in zone 8b, between Phoenix and Prescott, elevation 4100 ft. We want to put in some bulbs, of lillys, iris, other flowering flowers. When is the best time to get these in the ground. Our ground doesn't get the hard freeze that Flagstaff gets. Trying to find what temp we need to be at to plant the bulbs. We are in low 70's high and mid 50's to hight 40's for low.

Spring-flowering bulbs need

Spring-flowering bulbs need between 90 and 120 days in the ground to come up and bloom in the spring, so they should be planted soon, despite the warm temperatures. Also, you want to get them planted before they start sprouting.

Fall Bulbs

I planted my Spring Bulbs in the beginning of October. However, here in New England we are experiencing warm temperatures. I started to see a few shootings from some bulbs. Will they continue to grow and then die comes winter? Please let me know if I should do something to prevent this from happening. I feel I will not get a any flowers comes April - May. Thanks.

spring bulbs appearing in fall

Your bulbs should be fine, Maria; the warm spell is not expected to last. Apply another inch or two of mulch to the areas in which you planted the bulbs, covering any tips that may be showing. Leave the mulch until early spring. While it is not uncommon for bulbs to “pop” during an uncommonly warm fall spell, it’s also possible that you did not plant the bulbs quite deep enough. There is nothing you can do about it now, but if that is a concern, consider lifting (removing) them late next summer—long after they’ve flowered and after the foliage has died—and reset them a little deeper.

In the meantime, the blanket of mulch will halt their growth—and protect them for potentially damaging thaws and freezes in winter. You should get plenty og flowers!

Allium bulbs

Zone 5. We planted the Allium globe bulbs in fall. Wanted them to bloom for a wedding the first week in July. (I even planted them little deeper than rec.) They blossomed much too early! Where can I find Allium bulbs that bloom in the SUMMER...June & July-on. Mine blossomed in late spring and very early summer. They were brown by July 9th wedding. Darn. Any help or ideas what another Allium purple globe would do?

Daliah bulbs

I like in Kansas City and I planted some daliahs about 3 weeks ago since then we've had about 8in of rain. I haven't seen a sprout at all and I planted 8 bulbs. Should I dig them up and let them dry out and try again?

It’s true that the tubers may

It’s true that the tubers may rot if the plants have received too much water. It is suggested that dahlias get watered deeply 2 to 3 times a week. It is a good idea to gently dig up a tuber and see if it is rotten or if it has any new growth showing.


I live in zone 4. My tulips are coming up. No the foliage is coming up. Very few flowers. What did I do wrong?


You have not necessarily done anything wrong. Tulip foliage precedes the flower. You’re in the northern part of the US. So you are in the part that warms up later than more southerly parts of the US. And you have not indicated whether you planted early, mid, or late season tulips (the packaging usually indicates wich part of the season the bulbs within will bloom).
So wait a while. Let nature take its course.


In Maine, how long will Allium planted last fall still bloom? Will they still bloom July 9th for a wedding?! Thank you for any information.

allium in Maine

Tough one, if only because there are so many allium. Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, scallions, and chives all belong to the genus Allium, as do about 20 other species of food crops used around the world. Do you have the packaging the bulb/s came in?

Flowering onions (Allium spp.) are early summer perennials. We’d call that June to early July.

David Fuller, here https://extension.umaine.edu/about/staff-directory/david-fuller/ might be better able to help you with more specifics.


Question daffodil bulbs

I received daffodil flowers in a small pot at easter. I'd like to keep them and try to grow them again. I live in an apartment so I can't replant them in a garden. The flowers and leaves have started to wilt. I'm in an apartment in San Antonio tx so I don't really have a cool place to keep them. How should I care for the bulbs? Dig the out of the pot? Just let the soil dry out until..? Cut dead leaves and water soil and try to regrow right now?

saving Easter daffs

Well, you’re asking a lot of the bulbs, under the circumstances. Normally, we would say, wait until the foliage dies back, then plant them outside. There, they would be rained on occasionally. They would certainly get the benefit of a cold season (presumably that’s the case in your area), and they would have a chance at new life. Having them in a pot indoors for the next 9 to 10 months and watering them occasionally…it’s not the same. You could try putting them into the refrigerator over the fall and early winter (not in the pot). Do not store them in a plastic bag; that would deny them air, and they are living things, even in dormancy. Store them in some peat moss. It’s hard to know if they will come back. (Lots of people ask this question of gift bulbs.) Consider that they were grown, probably forced, for the season/holiday. You might have luck with them…and if it’s not looking good, you can always purchase another pot—or put another one on your list for the Easter Bunny to bring.

Good luck!

My bulbs always come up but do not flower

So I have a lovely bunch of bulbs - they grow lots of leaves and no flowers. It may be all my fault, because I planted a ton of wild flowers in the same area and have no idea how to fertilize them all in a shady desert texas flowerbed... I've added a lot of nice looking soils and have attracted many many snails... So I have a shady, hot, crazy soil (possibly acidic) area that only grows snap dragons and bulbs and mums right now. Should I just stick with these tough guy plants or should I get worried?

Hello I planted over 300

Hello I planted over 300 tulips, crocuses , anemones. And hundreds of other. I live on a small lake so my soil is rather good I would say. But this is my first year gardening. I'm a bit addicted. But my mistake is I did not place fertilizer in the areas where I planted is that bad ?Because of this weird weather in Virginia beach zone 8. I can see the tulips poking from the ground. When is the next time I can fertilize to make up. And will a liquid fertilizer do the job?

Best time to fertilize bulbs

Best time to fertilize bulbs is in the fall and in early spring when you see the first leaves. Sprinkle some 10-10-10 or 10-15-10 slow-release fertilizer on top of the soil. Then lightly cultivate the soil to disperse the fertilizer and water.

Early bloomers?

Hello, I live in zone 9 & planted numerous bulbs in November. About half of them are already sprouting 4 to 6 inches, is this normal for early spring bloomers or will it affect the blooms? I am worried about overnight temps killing the sprouts. Thank you!

Hi Cassie,

Hi Cassie,

You didn’t mention what kind of bulbs you planted. Most spring-blooming bulbs have leaves that are tough and the flower buds are still safe inside the bulbs. Any cold and snow is not going to hurt them. They should bloom fine when spring comes around.


Thank you, I'm not sure which

Thank you, I'm not sure which ones are coming up, but I planted crocus, tulips, daffodils, iris, & lillie's. Some of them are already developing flower heads.

Planting indoor bulbs outdoors

I have a pot with 4 tall asiatic pink lilies. They were beautiful and lasted a long long time. If i cut off the dead flowers and leaves can i replant the bulbs in my izmir garden? If so, should i remove the bulbs from the soil or leave them in the pot until i can replant them injanuary?. There will be no frost then, although we generally have one or two frosts and a bit of snow each year in late winter.

Asiatic lilies

Your “izmir garden”—Izmir, Turkey? (We do not know of any other!) In any case, you should not have a problem. If you think you will have a frost or snow late in winter, why wait until January? Cut stems to 5 to 6 inches above ground level. Separate the bulbs, and plant them under 5 to 6 inches of soil. They look best in clumps of 3, if you have that many, rather than one here and there. Recover with soil and mulch heavily to protect against the cold. In spring remove the mulch.

We hope this helps!

fall planted bulbs

I planted tulips and crocuses in pots in October and have them in my basement but it's been too warm and they are starting to grow. What can I do?

spring bulbs blooming too soon

It sounds like your basement is not cold enough. In order to flower, spring-blooming bulbs need a chilling period of 8 to 14 weeks at temps betw 35°and 40°F. You need to put them in an unheated, frost-free basement, garage, or porch.

A spare refreigerator is an ideal location, emphasis on “spare”: keep bulbs away from fruits and vegetables because them give off wthylene gas, which can cause the bud in the bulb to die.

When you determine a suitable place, mulch the new shoots. In spring, you can remove the excess mulch.


I live in south western Ontario. It is quite unpredictable as to when it gets cold. I would guess probably mid to late October would be best for planting here. I want to plant some nice flowers around my Kitty's grave, but it is in quite a shaded area. What flowers would be best to plant where there is not a lot of sunlight?

fall bulbs for shade

Hi, Carol-Ann: To a small extent, this depends on where you are in SW Ontario, but if you are in Owen Sound, there is a 50% chance that your first frost will have occurred by October 15, so you want to make sure that the ground isn’t frozen solid. There are lots of nice spring (i.e., fall-planted) bulbs that do well in significant shade, including lily-of-the-valley, snowdrops, snowflakes, squills, bluebells, cyclamens, and fritillarias. Thanks for the question, and Kitty thanks you, too!

What is the difference

What is the difference between corms, tubers and true bulbs?

Hi Jose, True bulbs include

Hi Jose,
True bulbs include tulips, daffodils, onions, hyacinths and lilies. Bulbs are usually round or eggshaped with a pointy end.
Corms are also round but flatter. They include gladiolus, freesia, and crocus. You will see bumps on the upper surface of the corm.
Tubers include potatoes, dahlias and anemones. They are thickened underground stems and are oval or look like fat fingers.
Rhizomes include iris, canna and calla lily. These are swollen underground stems that grow horizontally close to the surface of the soil.
We hope this helps.

i bought a bunch of bulbs

i bought a bunch of bulbs last summer and they were delivered at fall time. An injury prevented me from planting them last fall . I have them in a box in the garage . I live in suburbs of Chicago. Are they dead or can I still plant them

Check the bulbs to make sure

Check the bulbs to make sure they are not dried out or rotten. If the bulbs got a suitable "chill" from being in the garage this winter and they look healthy, you can go ahead and plant them now.

when is the best time to

when is the best time to tranplant tulips i live in zone 5 iowa

Transplant tulip bulbs once

Transplant tulip bulbs once the plant goes dormant.
This happens in early summer after the foliage has turned yellow and the roots die back. Dig a wide hole, so you do not slice into the bulb itself. If you have a spading fork, that works well. It is best to replant the bulbs right away instead of waiting until the fall when you normally plant new tulip bulbs.

I moved to southeastern North

I moved to southeastern North Carolina and in Oct. I planted Allium Purple Sensation, Daffodil and Tulips. The Allium have started to come up. Is this ok? I did throw some more dirt on them and covered with pine straw mulch. No sign of the others. Thank you

If spring bulbs are planted

If spring bulbs are planted in warm soil in fall, or if later the soil temperatures warm up, it can spur the bulbs to grow early. As temperatures cool down, growth usually will stop. Bulb foliage is usually fairly cold hardy, but if you don't have snow at this point (which insulates), you can protect the foliage over winter with about a 2-inch layer of mulch, as you have done. Remove the mulch in spring when temperatures warm.

It is October 16 and I live

It is October 16 and I live in central WI. A friend just thinned out her bed of Iris and gave me a lot of bulbs. It appears from the comments that it is too late for me to plant these. If that is the case, how/where do I store these until spring?

Can I plant marigolds in the

Can I plant marigolds in the same spot as hyacinths when they stop blooming and the leaves are dead/removed? We have a very small bed for gardening and I want to put hyacinth bulbs along the border so we have flowers in the spring, but then we will be using the majority of the area for tomatoes later on, and we usually border it with marigolds to keep the critters away.

Be careful not to disturb the

Be careful not to disturb the hyacinth bulbs when you plant the marigolds, and everything should be fine.

I have carcous in my flower

I have carcous in my flower bed. they came up this spring but didn't bloom just made leaves, now here it is the end of Sept and they are now blooming. I live in SW Okla and our winters are usually pretty mild, but was wondering why they are now blooming.

Thank you

Hi Sharon, You may have

Hi Sharon,
You may have planted fall blooming crocuses. There are more than a dozen species that bloom in the fall.

Hello. I just dug up an old

Hello. I just dug up an old garden and unearthed a large amount of bulbs that have been dormant for a few years, possibly from too much crowding. I have many small bulbs along with large bulbs. My question is are the small bulbs worth planting?

We recommend planting new

We recommend planting new bulbs.

I live in Nova Scotia,

I live in Nova Scotia, Canada. When should I plant the bulbs in the fall? Would the first week of September be too early?

Hi, Amy: You need to get them

Hi, Amy: You need to get them in the ground before the first frost, which on average may come as early as Sept. 20 in your neck of the woods. So get goin'! And thanks for asking!

I live in Region 5, we are

I live in Region 5, we are moving our daffodils to a different garden. Can we plant these now or do what do we need to do to them until fall?

You can transplant daffodils

You can transplant daffodils into a new garden now (late summer) and anytime up until 6 weeks before the first frost date.

I live in Dallas, Texas

I live in Dallas, Texas 75237. What is the best time to plant bulbs.

In Dallas, plant bulbs around

In Dallas, plant bulbs around October 1 as long as the temperatures are beginning to cool.

Can I put daffodil bulbs in

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

Spring-flowering bulbs such

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

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

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

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

Plant spring early summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

October is the ideal time to

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.