Flower Bulb Growing Tips

Golden Daffodil

A closer look at a daffodil.

Annette McCarthy

Here are key flower bulb growing tips from The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

  • Turn the soil over to a depth of about eight to ten inches. Add enough compost to make it loose and crumbly.
  • Don’t plant your bulbs where you always see standing water in early spring. They like well-drained sites.
  • Get your bulbs in the ground in September, October, or early November—before the last hard frost. Cover the bulbs with soil, water well, and provide two to four inches of mulch on top of the soil.
  • Plant bulbs to their recommended depths: For daffodils, fritillarias, hyacinths, and tulips, plant six to eight inches deep; for crocuses, snowdrops, Spanish bluebells, and other small bulbs, plant three to four inches deep.
  • Add a balanced natural organic fertilizer in the spring when the bulbs first appear and again after they have bloomed. It is not necessary to add fertilizer to the bulbs as you plant them, but you need to help them recharge their food banks after they have bloomed.
  • Cut off the spent flower heads after your bulbs have bloomed, but don’t cut off the foliage. The leaves help provide nutrients to what will become the next season’s bulbs.


Reader Comments

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I gave my parents for Easter some daffodils. What should they do with the bulbs until the fall?

storing bulbs

Just store the bulbs in a cool, dry, dark place so that the bulbs don’t freeze, sprout, or rot. A utility closet is often a good place. Some people put them in box and cover with soil. Then, plant in the fall!

planting multiple daffodils

Does every daffodil bulb have to have its own hole? Last fall, I dug a big round hole and placed the daffodil bulbs at least 3 inches apart, but they aren't blooming and foliage is sparse. Is that my fault or were they not good bulbs?

Planting Daffodils

As long as you gave them each their own “personal bubble” of 3–6 inches, they shouldn’t have been too crowded. Our guess is that it’s some other factor that’s causing your daffodil woes. Perhaps they were planted too deep or in a wet area? Check out our Daffodils Growing Guide to see if you can diagnose your problem.


I have had daffodils in the same place for about 10 years. Should I dig them up and separate them or just leave them?

Dividing Daffodils

We would just divide daffodils if they’re not blooming well. If they’re not blooming well, they’re getting too crowded together. Then dig and divide, or replant in a sunnier location. After replanting, let the foliage die back on its own, and they should bloom for you next spring.

Daffodil planting time

I bought a small pot of daffodil flowers that are blooming. I'd like to plant them in my garden area after they finish blooming. We're are in New Mexico, about 7,000 feet elevation, semi-arid, alkaline soil, last spring frost is late May. When to put them out in the ground? Thanks.

Daffodil Planting

Plant them when the ground is no longer frozen. You may want to give them a layer of mulch as well, so that they don’t dry out too much during the summer. Don’t expect them to bloom again this year, as they’ll likely spend their energy putting down roots instead. 

Daffodils and Hyacinths

How long should I wait after the daffodils and hyacinths are down flowering before I can cut back the leaves?

When to cut back foliage

Leave the bulb foliage alone until it dies back (dries out and becomes almost papery). You can cut off the flowers once they have faded.


I plant daffodils about 18 years ago no flowers , never no even one ! Now after all those years I got this huge surprise with beautiful strong yellow flowers!!!!! I am in Michigan, we had a lot of rain. But 18 years is a long time, can somebody tell me what happened. I would like very much to know . Thanks


What a lovely surprise!  These daffodils are not from the bulbs you planted 18 year ago. Are these wild daffodils? These daffodils spread by seed on their own. When it is wet, the seeds will stick to the feet of animals and can get spread over great distances. Last week, we were in a forest and surprised by some groves of daffodils!


My daffodils came back very pale. How do I get them back to their original gorgeous deep yellow

pale daffs

You have stumped us! We do not have an answer or explanation for this, nor advice, except to suggest that you click here on your state and when the state page comes up, contact your local cooperative extension and ask someone there: http://www.almanac.com/content/cooperative-extension-services



Is it good to have some

Is it good to have some compost mixed in soil while planting bulbs? I live in North Georgia. Is it too late to plant bulbs here?

You're fine. Late October is

You're fine. Late October is when folks start planting bulbs in Georgia. You can often plant as late as December but the later you wait, the harder it is for the bulbs to establish themselves before winter.

I Keep planting sunflower

I Keep planting sunflower seeds and they never come up. What am I doing wrong.

Sunflowers grow best in

Sunflowers grow best in locations with full sun; they prefer long, hot summers to flower well. Though they're not too fussy, sunflowers thrive in slightly acidic to somewhat alkaline (pH 6.0 to 7.5). If possible, put seeds in a spot that is sheltered from strong winds, perhaps along a fence or near a building. A light application of fertilizer mixed in at planting time will encourage strong root growth.

I live here in Chicago is it

I live here in Chicago is it too late to plant bulbs for this summer? I planted some canna lilies I got about 2 weeks ago and they are coming up but I wanted to plant more in my girlfriend's yard. Would it be too late?

You can plant more summer

You can plant more summer bulbs, but do it quickly.

I want to split my hosta and

I want to split my hosta and replant them in different areas, can I do that now (May 12) or do I need to wait until the fall?

Should I try to cover my

Should I try to cover my Daffodils that have just bloomed this past week? We live in central Texas and will probably have a freeze tonight.

Daffodil bulbs can take

Daffodil bulbs can take temperatures up to low 20s and bounce back-- though prolonged freezing temperatures may cause some damage to flowers and foliage. If flowers are in full bloom, the flowers may wilt as the flower stalk thaws. Protection such as garden fabric is a good idea.

I have 3 Amaryllis in

I have 3 Amaryllis in containers that have about 6 inches of foliage should I cut them back or will they go ahead and bloom

Only remove the leaves if

Only remove the leaves if they turn brown. Your amaryllis will bloom when the bulbs are ready.

Help they are calling for

Help they are calling for snow and my hyaciths are about 2inchs up out of the ground what should i do!! they are calling for 6-10inchs should i cover them or leave them be!!

Hyacinths are very hardy.

Hyacinths are very hardy. They are not going to die and the snow acts like a cozy blanket around your hyacinths.

I planted daffodil bulbs in

I planted daffodil bulbs in November. They started coming up in Feb. when we had a warm spell. The beginning of March we had frost which hurt all the blooms. Should I deadhead them or leave them alone?

I have canna bulbs and was

I have canna bulbs and was told to plant them in the spring.....is that not right?

I have had cannas for the

I have had cannas for the past 10 years and I always plant them in the spring and dig them up in the fall with excellent results. :-)