November, the month for giving thanks, leaves falling, cooking soup, football, craft fairs and major changes in weather. Living in Wisconsin when I think of November those are the things I think of most. Another activity I often partake in during the month of November is planting my fall bulbs like tulips, daffodils, and allium. I plant in November partly because I am a procrastinator. However, my delaying ways aren’t the only reason I like to plant my fall bulbs in November. Although it may be a bit chilly in November it is the best time to plant bulbs for 75% of the United States.
7 Reasons November is the Best Time to Plant Bulbs
7.) Procrastination the Great Motivator
I know procrastination is a great motivator because I have always been a procrastinator. My procrastinating ways may drive my husband a bit crazy sometimes when I wait to accomplish certain tasks. However, those of us that like to take our time before getting down to brass tacks know that we will get it done in and on time. I am a timely individual who is on time for the most part. I take pride in my great attendance record as a whole.
Even though I may wait until it is the very last minute or day in the case of planting fall bulbs. When I know the window of planting opportunity is running out, I get my plan together, my shovel ready, and start digging. Not having all the time in the world to plant, helps me to get my plan in action. If you are like me and tend to put things off, don’t worry! You can still have blooms in spring even if you wait until November to plant.
6.) Spend More Time in the Garden
I like cooler temperatures, for better or worse I am built for a colder climate. I always say that like the duo by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, I am a Girl from a North Country. Spending the whole day outside in temps that are in the 50’s, 40’s 30’s or even 20’s is nice, as long as I am prepared for it. When it comes to a warm 85+ degree day I get exhausted so much quicker. On those hot summer days, I would not want to plant bulbs or do anything else other than finding a cool pool to stick my feet in.
The cooler 40 and 50-degree temperatures that happen in November in the upper midwest, make me want to spend the whole day outside! Whether it is hiking with my dogs, playing disc golf, or planting flower bulbs. If I am spending the whole day outside planting bulbs it means I can plant more bulbs by finding all sorts of pockets to plant in. Discovering hidden locations under trees and shrubs to plant my bulbs is a fun scavenger hunt. With the proper attire: warm socks, gloves, winter hat, jacket, hoodie, and solid base layers you can set yourself up to spend the whole day in the garden!
5.) See the Big Picture
Late fall and winter is the perfect time to evaluate your yard and garden. With all the leaves off the trees and perennials cut back for winter you can see the big picture of what areas can use a burst of color. Spring bulbs tend to be the earliest flowers in the garden to emerge and bloom.
Filling in under trees and shrubs. Tucking bulbs into your rock garden. Planting a garden border of tulips, hyacinths or daffodils is much easier to evaluate when the garden is quiet. When the garden isn’t crowded from the summer-blooming perennials you can see where you need to add color.
When the garden is bare in late fall it is similar to how the garden will look in early and mid-spring. Seeing the big picture in your yard, by evaluating all the possible planting locations creates a whole garden full of color and texture.
4.) The Theory of Increased Squirrel Protection
I have a theory that planting later in the fall season that it protects your bulbs from thieving squirrels and chipmunks.
My theory relates and relies heavily on point number 7 about procrastination. Due to my tendency to procrastinate, I always end up planting my fall bulbs in mid-November at the earliest. Often I haven’t planted until after Thanksgiving.
Most years I plant my tulips and daffodils within days of the ground freezing solid for the fall and upcoming winter season. This works in my favor, as squirrels are everywhere in my neighborhood. There are so many squirrels in my neighborhood, that one time I saw a squirrel crossing the street carrying a donut! Not sure where the squirrel donut shop is, but they found it!
Once the ground is frozen solid chipmunks and squirrels are not able to dig into the ground, therefore not able to steal flower bulbs. By leaving this short window of time from when my bulbs are planted to the ground freezes I have implored the theory of increased squirrel protection. To this point, my theory of late planting and increased squirrel protection hasn’t failed.
3.) Best Deals on Bulbs
Who doesn’t rejoice when they get a good deal? Maybe it is my lifelong citizenship in the state of Wisconsin? Perhaps coming from a long line of bargain hunters, clearance rack shoppers and coupon clippers has made me take pride in getting a good deal?
Most garden centers and online retailers like Holland Bulb Farms and Tulip World have incredible deals on flower bulbs this time of year. You can generally get large quantities of over 100 tulip or daffodil bulbs for less than .30 cents a bulb! That is amazing when you think about how much beauty those tulips and daffs will add to your yard next spring.
If you want flowers all spring, you can generally get an assortment of spring-flowering bulbs that have hundreds of bulbs! I love the fact that for less than $100 I could have hundreds of blooming flowers. These flowers will surprise and amaze me and my neighbors. They will also give me something to look forward to all winter when spring arrives.
2.) Multi-Tasking at Its Finest
Some say multitasking can make you less productive and less focused. I don’t think that is always the case unless you haven’t perfected the art of multi-tasking.
Multi-tasking in this busy world we live in is necessary in order to use your time wisely. Obviously, certain tasks like brain surgery require your full attention. Fortunately, planting bulbs is not brain surgery, neither is raking leaves. While you are out in your yard raking leaves, and cleaning up the yard you may as well plant your fall bulbs. Multi-task with the best of them. Put your yard to sleep for winter while prepping it to wake up with tenacity in spring!
1.) Temperatures that Bulbs Like
The most important reason to plant bulbs in November is that the temperatures are usually ideal for planting bulbs! Bulbs are simple for the most part. They need sun, air, water, and the right temperatures.
Fall bulbs need cold temperatures to produce a flower bud. However, they also need to be planted in the right temperatures to establish a healthy root system. The best time to plant fall bulbs is when your temperatures are in the 60’s during the day or lower.
I did a little research on some of my favorite weather sites like Accuweather and Weather Underground. My research indicated that nearly 75% of the United States can start or finish their fall bulb planting in the month of November.
The upper midwest even though it is a bit chilly is certainly hanging in the ’60s or lower during the day. Middle parts of the country such as Tennesse, Kansas, and Colorado are also cooling off. Temperate areas like Northern California, Oregon, and Washington are also cool this time of year, and all fall bulbs can be planted in November.
Warm weather states located in hardiness zone 8 and above may want to wait until December to plant. These warm-weather areas such as Alabama, Texas, Georgia, Florida, and southern California tend to have cooler temperatures starting in December.
Plant in November for Blooms in Spring
You may or may not agree with all of my 7 reasons why November is the best time to plant. For example, point number 6 spending more time in the garden with cooler temperatures is highly debated. Most of my friends and family would much rather spend a day outside in 80-degree temps than 40-degree temps. I say to each their own!
Whatever your reasons are for planting fall bulbs in November or even December, know it is not too late to plant. If given the proper water, light, air, and temperatures you will have a thriving garden filled with beautiful garden gems blooming from April to May!