How to Plant Flower Bulbs in October


Springtime brings fresh new life in the way of flowers, green grass and budding trees. You can plan ahead to increase the number of flowers you have popping up in your yard by planting bulbs in October, when everything is drying up and getting ready for winter. October is the best time to get your spring bulbs in the ground since it will give them enough time to develop a good root system before the low winter temperatures set in for the year.

Step 1

Check the bulbs that you want to plant. Find bulbs that are firm and plump, similar to an onion or garlic bulb. If they are shriveled in their skin, you run the risk of trying to plant a diseased bulb. Make sure you check to see if the bulbs you wish to plant are suitable for your growing conditions, specifically for light, winter temperatures and soil types. Most flowers will bloom the first year, but will then die off from lack of light, hard frosts or poor drainage.

Step 2

Design how you want to plant your bulbs. According to Richard Jauron, a horticulturist for Iowa State University, if you plant spring-flowering bulbs in clusters or groups, you will get the greatest visual impact. When you plan, include colors, height as well as bloom time in your calculations.

Step 3

Prepare the flowerbed. Some people prefer to use a bulb planter to pull out a plug of soil and drop in the bulb but this does not allow for any soil amendments or fertilizers. Turn over the soil to a depth four times the size of the bulb. For instance, if you have a 2-inch bulb, you need to plant it 8 inches deep. Work some peat moss or well-rotted compost into the soil to help loosen the soil and make it easier for the bulb to emerge in the spring.

Step 4

Set the bulbs into the prepared bed at the correct depth and cover back up with the soil. Firm the area by pressing down with your palm. You do not want to leave easy pickings for the squirrels that are in the busy time of preparing for winter.

Step 5

Mulch over the planted bulbs with 3 inches of mulch. This will help insulate the bulbs down below from the frost heaving them out of the ground. Some bulbs may require that you pull the mulch away in the spring, but generally, they can send shoots up through the soft mulch.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand shovel
  • Peat moss
  • Compost
  • Garden spade
  • Mulch
  • Rake


  • Iowa State University Extension: October is Time to Plant SPring Flowering Bulbs
  • Colorado State University Extension: Fall-Planted Bulbs and Corms
Keywords: plant October bulbs, planting spring bulbs, Growing Bulb Flowers

About this Author

Based in Maryland, Heidi Braley, currently writes for local and online media outlets. Some of Braley's articles from the last 10 years are in the "Oley Newsletter," "Connections Magazine," GardenGuides and Braley's college life included Penn State University and Villanova University with her passions centered in nutrition and botany.