Want to Grow Bulbs but Confused About When to Plant?

We’ve all seen it: the neighbor’s yard full of brilliant tulips, daffodils, and hyacinth in the spring…or the gorgeous fenceline covered with vibrantly-colored dahlias and lilies in the late summer. Wouldn’t we all love to grow flowers like these? You can! The key is knowing when to plant what and then remembering to do it! So here’s a quick guide to help assist you in planning your garden:

17538 Plant Tulips in Fall

Hardy spring bulbs such as tulips are planted in fall because they need a period of cold in order to stimulate the biochemical process that makes them flower in spring. (Photo: NFBIC)

When to Plant Fall Bulbs?

First of all, bulb planting times are pretty much divided up into two seasons: spring and fall. When an experienced garden refers to “fall bulbs“, they are most likely referring to bulbs which are planted in the fall and therefore bloom in the spring. These bulbs are typically the most familiar and include the following: tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, allium, iris, crocus, fritillaria, and muscari. So what exactly does “fall” mean? Depending upon where you live, fall may start in late September for you or not until mid-November! A good rule of thumb to follow: wait until the nighttime temperatures are consistently between 40°F and 50°F. In most areas, October is a pretty good month to safely plant your fall bulbs. Just be sure to get the bulbs in the ground prior to a severe frost but not too early that they sprout pre-maturely.

77022 Dahlia 'Gerrie Hoek'

Dahlias are great summer bloomers! (Photo: NFBIC)

When to Plant Spring Bulbs?

Conversely, when referring to “spring bulbs“, a gardener is most likely referring to bulbs which are planted in the spring and therefore bloom in the fall. These  bulbs are not planted quite as often as the fall bulbs but are still fairly easy to grow and produce gorgeous blooms! They include the following: begonias, calla lilies, cannas, caladiums, elephant ears, gladiolus, lilies, freesia, cyclamen, and anemone. Again, the season “spring” may vary based upon your Hardiness Zone. Basically, once the ground has thawed, your spring bulbs can be planted. The weather should be consistently above freezing at this point with the chances of a frost slim to none. In most areas, April is a perfect month to do your spring bulb planting.

Hope this information helps clear up any confusion about when to plant the types of bulbs you desire to grow. Now that you know when to plant bulbs, get out there and plant them! Too many times we marvel at the flowers when they are blooming and commit to planting them ourselves, but by the time the correct season comes around to do it, we never do! Do you have a desire for a yard full of tulips? Take a picture of some and hang it on your fridge with a note saying, “Plant fall bulbs in October.” This way you won’t forget how much you love them when the time comes to plant! Are you envious of your neighbor’s Gladioli? Snap a quick shot and place the picture in the pocket of your spring coat to remind you to plant your own! Just wait and see: you, too, will have beautiful gardens!

Until next time,

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Have more questions about planting bulbs? Ask Bridget at bridget@bulbblog.com. If Bridget features your question in a future blog, you’ll receive a coupon good on  your next purchase at www.hollandbulbfarms.com!