Tips on Planting Bulbs in Spring

Spring-growing flower bulbs, such as the common hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis), the daffodil (Narcissus spp.) and the tulip (Tulipa spp.), are versatile additions to any backyard garden. With dozens of species from which to choose, gardeners can select a variety that does well in their region or soil. Several management tips and planting strategies can help ensure a colorful, healthy explosion of flower bulb growth in your landscape.


Spring bulbs should be stored properly until they're planted; this ensures proper plant development and flower blooms. A standard refrigerator is acceptable, but all ethylene-producing fruit, like pears and apples, should be removed first. Such fruit produce the ethylene gas that reduces bulb viability, according to North Carolina State University Extension.

Bulb Size

For the best planting results, gardeners should typically choose the largest bulbs they can obtain from a nursery or garden store, according to the University of Vermont (UVM) Extension Service. These usually result in the most vigorous plant growth. Unfortunately, such bulbs command the most expensive price.

Planting Sites

Choosing a planting site for the flower bulbs is about more than just choosing an area that's aesthetically pleasing or that could use a color boost from the blossoms. Though most bulbs will bloom and grow suitably during their first year in a new location, gardeners that want to keep the bulbs in the same area for subsequent years of growth should be more selective. Bulbs require well-drained soil that's relatively sunny and dry in the summer and doesn't collect water in the winter, according to Cornell University Extension.

Site Preparation

Gardeners must ensure a loose, rich soil substrate for their flower bulbs to achieve their full growth potential. Using a spade, the gardener should breakup the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Organic matter, such as aged compost or finely shredded wood chips, can be added to increase the soil's organic composition and boost drainage. NCSU Extension recommends adding 50 percent of the soil's volume in organic material, mixing the material thoroughly with the dirt.


UVM Extension suggests planting bulbs by simply digging a hole, pushing the bulb into it, and covering it with soil. The exact depth and spacing of the bulbs should be adjusted according to the species and varies widely. Gardeners can consult the nursery or store from which they obtained the bulbs for species-specific guidance. For example, daffodils should be planted 4 inches below the soil's surface while hyacinths should be planted just 2 inches deep.


Spring bulbs will react positively to the nutritional boost provided by fertilizer. This may help the plant to grow more vigorously and produce flowers faster. When digging the hole for the bulb, gardeners should mix 1/2 tsp. of standard flower fertilizer into the bottom of the hole, according to UVM Extension.

Keywords: spring bulb tips, bulb planting tips, spring bulb care

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.