How to Garden & Plant Bulbs

Overview

Bulbs are among the easiest flowers to grow. They come neatly packaged with their own stored food. All you have to do is tuck them in the ground in the fall, and come spring, long before any other flowers appear, they reward you with a profusion of blooms. Most people think of springtime when they think of bulbs, but summer-blooming bulbs such as gladiolus and dahlias provide glorious blooms long after the daffodils and tulips have faded. Plant both in your garden for a versatile, long-lived display of color.

Step 1

Choose a sunny location for your bulbs. Bulbs require six to 10 hours of sunlight per day. Spring bulbs can be planted under deciduous trees because by the time the trees leaf out, the daffodils, tulips and grape hyacinths almost will be done growing.

Step 2

Apply a 2-inch layer of compost to the soil and till it in. Bulbs don't need a lot of nutrients, but they do require well-drained soil. Adding organic material such as compost improves drainage. Sandy soils won't need much help, but clay soils may require even more compost.

Step 3

Buy spring-blooming bulbs in late summer and early fall. Look for bulbs that are solid and fat. Avoid ones that have mushy spots or an unpleasant odor. Store them in a cool dry place until daytime temperatures stay consistently below 60 degrees. Buy summer-blooming bulbs in late spring and store them in a cool, dry place until all danger of frost has passed.

Step 4

Dig a hole large enough for four or five bulbs at a depth of three or four times the size of the bulbs. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of bulb fertilizer in the bottom of the hole and place the bulbs in the hole with the pointed tips facing up. Cover the bulbs with soil and water them for five minutes.

Step 5

Remove brown leaves from daffodils and tulips only after the plants are done flowering. Remove spent blossoms unless you want the plant to self-sow.

Step 6

Dig up tender summer-blooming bulbs, such as cyclamen and dahlia, in late summer. Dust them with a fungicide and store them in a bag of peat in a cool, dry place. Keep temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't allow summer bulbs to freeze by storing them in an unheated shed. A dry, unheated basement is a good location.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Shovel
  • Hand pruning shears

References

  • "The Garden Primer"; Barbara Damrosch; 1988
  • Cornell University Department of Horticulture: Bulbs

Who Can Help

  • Cornell University Department of Horticulture: Daffodils
Keywords: planting bulbs, growing bulbs, gardening with bulbs

About this Author

Julie Christensen has been writing professionally since 2001. She is a full-time freelance writer and former teacher with writing credits from several regional and national publications, such as Colorado Parent and LDS Living. She specializes in parenting, education and gardening topics. Christensen studied early childhood education at Ricks College, and spent 20 years as a teacher and director in university and public school settings.