How to plant flower bulbs?

Planting spring flowering bulbs

It's a fact of life: to enjoy the glorious bulb flowers that bloom in spring - such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses and others - you have to plant them in the fall. That's the bad news. The good news is that nothing is easier to grow or more colorfully rewarding than flower bulbs. Even the most unskilled gardener can create a breathtaking and beautiful spring garden with flower bulbs. Spring-flowering bulbs have to be planted in the fall because they require a sustained "dormant" period of cold temperatures to stimulate root development. The only rule is that, spring-flowering flower bulbs have to be planted before the first hard frost. It's best to plant flower bulbs as soon as possible after bringing them home. If you have to store them, keep them dry and cool - between 50 and 60 degrees (°F).

Tempting Choices

In addition to tulips and daffodils, you'll also want to plant other more exotic Dutch flower bulbs such as spring-flowering Scilla, Puschkinia, Muscari, Fritillaria, Allium, Camassia, and Eremurus. Spring-flowering bulbs offer a wide variety of colors, heights and flowering periods. Use your imagination! Easy-to-grow bulbs allow you to concentrate on garden design. All you really need to learn about planning your garden is written on the package or available from your retailer. What you need to know are: the color of the flowers, the months when they will bloom, their height, what month to plant, and how deep to plant.

Here are some professional planting tips

Most spring-flowering Dutch flower bulbs will thrive in either full or partial sun but will do just fine in almost any location that offers good drainage. Flower bulbs will rot in standing water, so avoid areas prone to flooding such as at the bottom of slopes or under drainage pipes.

After choosing the site:

  • Dig either a trench for a bed planting or individual holes for individual flower bulbs or small cluster of flower bulbs. To determine how deep to plant, consider the diameter or size of the flower bulb. Large flower bulbs (2 inches across or more) are usually planted about 6 inches deep; smaller-sized flower bulbs (1 inch) are planted 3-4 inches deep.
  • Loosen the soil with a rake to aerate it and also remove any weeds and small stones. Mix in a bit of peat moss to improve soil drainage. Place - do not push - bulbs firmly in the soil with the pointed side up. Space large bulbs 3-8 inches apart and small bulbs 1-3 inches apart. (If you're not sure which end is right side up, don't worry. Upside-down flower bulbs usually come up anyway!)
  • Cover the flower bulbs with soil and then water generously if the soil is not yet moist. Add 2-3 inches of mulch (pine bark is fine) on top of the garden bed. This will provide added protection from the cold and keep the soil from drying out.

It's as easy as 1-2-3. By following these simple guidelines, your colorful garden is sure to turn the neighbors green with envy. Basically, it all boils down to buying those flower bulbs, putting them in the ground and dreaming all winter of the glorious spring that awaits you.

Planting bulbs, step 1

Dig a hole in which to plant them or, you might want to make individual holes to plant individual bulbs or small clusters of bulbs.

Planting bulbs, step 2

Remove weeds and small stones from the vicinity of the hole. Put the bulbs gently into the hole with their ‘noses’ pointed upward. Arrange large bulbs 3-8 inches apart and small bulbs 1-3 inches apart.

Planting bulbs, step 3

Cover the bulbs with soil and, if the soil is dry, provide some water.