How to Start Flower Bulbs


Planting flower bulbs is a simple way to add a splash of color to your spring garden. When purchasing bulbs, select varieties that can remain in the ground throughout the winter in your growing zone. Look for large, firm bulbs without any signs of damage. Make sure your bulbs have not begun to sprout and store them in a cool, dry and dark place until you are ready to plant. With a bit of fall preparation, your spring garden will burst with colorful flowers.

Step 1

Begin preparing the soil about six weeks before the first frost in your area. Choose a sunny location in your garden, and incorporate 50 percent compost into the soil. This will ensure the roots get adequate water without being waterlogged.

Step 2

Design the layout of your flower bulb garden. Place the bulbs 4 to 6 inches apart on the soil above the spots where you will plant them. Place taller flower varieties behind shorter ones, and plant bulbs that will bloom at the same time in clusters for a more dramatic effect.

Step 3

Dig a hole for each bulb according to the particular type of flower. Most bulbs need to be planted between 5 and 8 inches deep. Place the bulbs in the holes with the pointy end facing up and fill in around the bulb with the removed soil and step lightly on the area to remove air pockets.

Step 4

Water your flower bed thoroughly two to three times per week until the first freeze. Bulbs require no fertilization as they contain plenty of nutrients for the first year's bloom.

Step 5

Cover your flower bed with a layer of mulch once the ground freezes. Purchase prepared mulch from a garden store or cover the ground with raked leaves from your trees. This layer will protect the bulbs from temperature fluctuations and hold moisture.

Tips and Warnings

  • Let the soil in your flower bed dry out for two to three days before planting if it is damp and clumpy. Never place fertilizer in the planting holes. Direct contact with fertilizer may burn the roots of your flowers.

Things You'll Need

  • Small shovel
  • Compost
  • Flower bulbs
  • Mulch


  • International Flower Bulb Center: Tips for First Time Bulb Planters
  • American Meadows: How to Plant Flower Bulbs
  • The Plant Expert: How to Plant Bulbs
Keywords: starting flower bulbs, planting spring bulbs, flower garden guide

About this Author

Lydia Stephens began writing professionally in 2009. She has written online for Nile Guides, and various other Web sites and has been published in "Stringing Magazine" and "Xiamen Wave." Stephens played competitive soccer for 19 years, has been weight lifting since 2007 and enjoys running, biking and sailing. She has a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the University of Texas.