Flower Bulbs – When to Plant

Knowing when to plant spring flowering bulbs like tulips and daffodils can be confusing to some gardeners. Here are some handy bulb planting pointers to ensure that your spring bulbs are planted in good time to come up beautifully every year

When can bulbs be planted?

Spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils should be planted in the fall or early winter in order to bloom in spring as they require a long period of cool temperatures to spark the biochemical process that causes them to flower. If you live in an area with freezing temperatures, your bulbs need to be planted in the ground before the ground freezes so that they can have time to develop strong roots.

If you forget to plant the bulbs in the fall, try chilling them in the refrigerator for use indoors as forced bulbs or somehow get them into the ground outside. Because bulbs are so tough and contain a full storehouse of food, your bulbs will try their best to bloom no matter how late it is in the season. Chances are you may still get some results, even if you plant them late.

Growing spring flowering bulbs in warm climates

It’s possible to grow spring-flowering bulbs in climates as warm as Zone 10. However the blooming season in these zones is much earlier than in cooler zones. Growing bulbs in a warmer zone means that you need to pre-chill the bulbs, especially tulips and daffodils.

Pre-chill your flower bulbs

Pre-chill the bulbs for a minimum of six to eight weeks in a refrigerator at a temperature of around 40°F to 45°F (typical refrigerator temperature). They can remain chilling up to 16 weeks if necessary, until it is time to plant. Ideally the bulbs should be put in the ground in December or early January.

Where is the best spot to plant flower bulbs?

Bulbs like tulips, daffodils and crocuses will grow in shade(some thoughts about shade gardening) as well as a sunny location. For bulbs that continue to thrive and multiply year after year however, they do need four to six hours of sunlight each day. Even if your garden is shady in summer though, there is usually more sun in a spring garden as many of the trees and shrubs haven’t grown their summer leaves back yet.

Be sure to plant bulbs in an area that the soil drains well (Drainage properties of different soil types) so that your bulbs aren’t sitting in water which could cause them to rot, but do water newly planted bulbs to help those roots get going.