Having a garden bursting with flowers from bulbs unfortunately does not happen overnight. Months beforehand, you must select the bulbs and plant them at the correct time to enjoy their blooms. Sometimes, the right planting time goes past before the bulbs have been planted, but it may still be worth digging the hole and planting them.
Ideally bulbs like daffodils, tulips and crocus should be planted in the fall about four to six weeks before the first hard freeze is due. This enables the bulbs to establish their roots and be ready for the spring. Planting these bulbs too late and too close to the winter freeze will not allow the roots to develop and may cause the bulbs to rot over winter or, if they do grow, to develop scraggly leaves and small flowers. If you wait too long in the fall, it is better to plant the bulbs as soon as the ground can be broken in the late winter or early spring. No matter what the circumstances, if you find a forgotten bag of bulbs, it is better to plant them and take a chance they will bloom rather than saving them until the following planting season, since, unlike seeds, bulbs do not hold over well outside the ground.
Spring-blooming bulbs are hardy; summertime-blooming bulbs are not. Generally, summer-blooming bulbs are planted in late April or May. This allows the bulb to establish its roots, grow foliage and produce flowers. Planting a summer-blooming bulb much later than May, like the first of July, will not give the bulb enough time to grow its flower before the cold sets in. You may have green leaves and foliage from the bulb, but an underdeveloped plant with fewer blossoms or none.
Like spring bulbs though, it is better to plant a summer-blooming bulb late than save it for the following year, because it most likely will not survive. Bulbs, unlike seeds, are living and will dry out and die if left unplanted.