What Bulbs to Plant in the Fall

To enjoy the huge array of flowering bulbs that bloom in spring, you need to plant them in autumn. These bulbs need a prolonged winter dormancy caused either by cold temperatures or a drought in order to produce a flower when they sprout in spring. Thus, they are best grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 3 through 8 only. The general rule is to plant bulbs about three times deeper than the height of the bulb as measured from base to tip.


One of the easiest bulbs to grow, daffodils and jonquils (Narcissus spp.) tend to multiply readily to create lush clumps of flowers for years after you first plant them in the landscape. Realize there are hundreds of varieties, all with varying flower colors and times across late winter to mid-spring when they bloom.


Spring wouldn't be complete without having tulips (Tulipa spp.) growing somewhere in your garden. Rodents tend to dig up these bulbs and eat them. They also do not return consistently the following spring unless your soil remains moist and cool over the entire summer.


Sometimes blooming as early as midwinter, the petite snowdrop (Galanthus spp.) displays downward-facing white flowers with green markings. It often blooms while snow is still on the ground.


Wood hyacinths (Hyacinthoides spp.), Dutch hyacinths (Hyacinthus spp.) and grape hyacinths (Muscari spp.) need planting in autumn in order to root and then poke out their colorful, upright clusters of flowers next spring.


A cute companion to the early-flowering snowdrop, crocus (Crocus spp.) is available in dozens of species and varieties, offering a wide choice in flower color and timing of bloom. Some species flower in late fall while many bloom during warm spells in winter to early spring.

Winter Aconite

If yellow is a favorite color, plant winter aconite (Eranthis spp.) bulbs in rock gardens or at the front of the garden bed so you can enjoy the short buttercup-like blossoms in late winter. These also make cute companions for snowdrops.

Crown Imperial

If you need a majestic floral statement in your spring garden, dare to grow crown imperial (Fritillaria imperialis). These bulbs send up tall stems with a leafy tuft on top surrounded by drooping bell flowers of orange, red or yellow. The plants' oils smell like skunks.

Keywords: fall bulb planting, bulbs for fall, spring-flowering bulbs, fall garden tasks

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for "The Public Garden," "Docent Educator," nonprofit newsletters and for horticultural databases, becoming a full-time writer in 2008. He's gardened and worked professionally at public and private gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He has written articles for eHow and GardenGuides.