Popular fall bulbs include daffodils, tulips and crocuses, and are typically planted in the fall so they can grow roots and become established before spring. Fall bulbs also require a chilling period in order to grow and bloom. In the early spring, fall bulbs will begin to pop up from the ground and adorn the garden with beautiful colored flowers. Fall bulbs are typically available for purchase beginning in late summer. It is best to buy them just before you are ready to plant them. Plant fall bulbs about four to six weeks before the ground begins to freeze.
Find your area's United States Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone to help you select fall bulbs for your climate. There are many USDA zone maps online and in garden books, but you can also visit the National Gardening Association website and type in your Zip code to find out your zone.
Select fall bulbs rated winter hardy in your hardiness zone. If you live in a zone warmer than the bulbs' zone, purchase the bulbs in the fall, but rather than planting them, store them in a cool location, such as in the refrigerator, to chill. However, bulbs vary in their storage needs, so follow the storage directions.
Order your bulbs from a reputable online or catalog nursery. Read over their return policies just in case the bulbs do not arrive healthy. According to the University of Minnesota, bulbs should be firm, free from any cuts or bruises (signs of disease) and still have their tunics (papery skin) surrounding them. Alternatively, purchase your fall bulbs at a local nursery and hand pick them, if desired.