It seems as if every April and may we get many phone calls from excited new gardeners wanting to add vibrant colors to their landscape. “Do you have tulips? Can I come in and get daffodils?” Folks, we’re gonna let you in on a big secret. Plant your fall bulbs for spring color now so that you can watch as your plants begin to pop up out of the ground next year. It’s so much fun to see them grow and blossom!
We are going to give you 3 easy steps to planting bulbs and 3 bonus pro tips to set you up for success.
What is the latest you can plant bulbs?
By planting now, we don’t necessarily mean in October – or even November. You can plant the bulbs all the way up until the ground is too hard and too frozen to plant things. So it’s fine to plant them in December or January, even if you lay them aside and forget where you placed them (trust us, we’ve done it!).
Most people like to wait until their annuals and their flower beds have been put to, well…bed for this season. The last thing you usually do is grab our bulbs. You should be looking for your bulbs now, because quite often the garden centers will sell out of them (and we usually do). And if you are thinking about it in November or December, the chances of finding your bulbs may be a little bit more challenging.
Three steps to planting bulbs for spring blooms – Dig, Drop, Done!
Dig your hole about three times deeper than the size of the bulb. If you’ve got a bulb that’s maybe two inches – dig down six inches into the soil. Get the ground nice and worked up before the next step.
Drop your bulb pointed side up into the hole or trench that you just dug. And if you’re not certain which way is up, ask one of the experts at the store to help identify. Some are pretty easy to tell – you can see the roots on the bottom. Some of them are a little more challenging and not quite as obvious.
Cover your hole with soil. Now rinse and repeat – yep, water the soil if it’s dry and plant more bulbs.
Let’s pause for some pro tips!
Pro Tip #1
When you’re purchasing your bulbs, don’t hesitate to squeeze them and feel the firmness. The later in the season it gets, the more the opportunities that these bulbs have to dry rot, and then they may not come back for you. So pay attention as you are purchasing and you’ll be able to recognize that these bulbs are good and solid.
Pro Tip #2
When choosing your bulbs, think about your environment. For example, deer don’t like daffodils but they love tulips. So if you’re in an area where you have a lot of deer, make sure to plant the tulips up closer to your home so the deer will be less likely to get to them.
Pro Tip #3
Daffodils are also called narcissus. So if you think, “Well, I see the narcissus, but where are the daffodils?” It’s the same difference.
Can you plant your bulbs close together?
You want to be a little bit careful not to crowd them. Not necessarily for the upcoming season, but for subsequent years down the road. If you plant them too close, they are going to get too crowded and they’re not going to perform quite as well for you.
Can you fertilize your bulbs?
There are bulb foods like bone meal which can help. Just sprinkle the fertilizer across the area and it’ll get down to the roots of those bulbs and they’ll take it up.
And that’s about really all there is to it. If you don’t remember next spring where you planted them – surprise! If you do, then you can actually simply watch the area and mother nature takes care of the rest.
Want to learn more?
If you want to learn more, watch and listen as our resident expert, Duke Stockslager, walks us through planting some daffodils (his favorite!) outside the greenhouse.