How to Grow Spring Bulbs


Planting spring growing bulbs in the late fall will add to the explosion of color early in the growing season. Site preparation is perhaps the most important factor in growing the bulbs. Large and plentiful blooms will be your reward for the hard work. According to Cornell University, spring bulbs require a well-drained soil that allows for plenty of sunlight. Locations that provide between eight and 10 hours of continuous sun will grow the best flowers.

Step 1

Prepare the new spring bulb flowerbed in late summer. Loosen the soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches with either the shovel or a mechanical rototiller.

Step 2

Layer organic material such as peat moss or compost over the new flowerbed at a rate of 3 bushels per 100 square feet. Work the organic material into the soil to the same depth of at least 8 inches.

Step 3

Broadcast a low-nitrogen fertilizer (5-10-10) over the flowerbed using approximately 1 pound per 100 square feet. Work the fertilizer into the soil with the shovel or tiller.

Step 4

Plant the bulbs into the flowerbed in late fall. Set the bulbs two to three times the bulb's diameter deep. In other words, a 2-inch diameter bulb will be set in the ground between 4 inches and 6 inches deep. Spacing of the bulbs is up to you, as various species of spring flowering bulbs may require different spacing. Contact your nursery for spacing recommendations of the spring bulbs.

Step 5

Irrigate the bulbs into the soil to remove any excess air from around the tubers, and increase the soil-to-root contact. The bulb's roots will begin to grow during the fall months.

Step 6

Scratch 2 pounds of the low-nitrogen fertilizer (5-10-10) per 100 square feet of the flowerbed into the soil. Use a small hand cultivator to work the fertilizer into the soil when the flowers begin to bloom in early spring.

Step 7

Water the spring blooming bulbs if your area is experiencing a dry spell. In most cases, an equivalent of 1 inch of water every two weeks will be more than sufficient for the bulbs.

Step 8

Deadhead the spent blooms to place more energy into the bulbs. Use the scissors to remove the finished flower heads so they will not produce seeds. Do not remove the foliage or leaves, as the leaves feed the bulb for next spring's flowers. Allow the leaves to naturally die back.

Step 9

Cover the bulb flowerbed in 2 inches of mulch after cold weather arrives in your climate. The mulch can be any wood byproduct such as sawdust, composted bark or wood chips. Avoid using leaves. The leaves can pack down and prevent the bulb from emerging through the compacted layer.

Step 10

Divide and replant the bulbs every three years to four years of growth to prevent overcrowding. Use the steps above to establish new flowerbeds and replenish the existing one.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Rototiller
  • Organic material (peat moss, compost)
  • 5-10-10 fertilizer
  • Water
  • Hand cultivator
  • Scissors
  • Mulch (wood byproducts)


  • University of Illinois: Bulbs and More
  • Cornell University: How to Grow Bulbs
Keywords: grow spring flowers, plant fall bulbs, make flowerbed

About this Author

G. K. Bayne is a freelance writer, currently writing for Demand Studios where her expertise in back-to-basics, computers and electrical equipment are the basis of her body of work. Bayne began her writing career in 1975 and has written for Demand since 2007.