How to Plant Flowering Bulbs

Deer and squirrels won't dig up and eat daffodil bulbs. image by Andrea Kratzenberg:


Bulbs are prized by gardeners for their ease of planting; there are no seeds to plant or seedlings to nurture for long periods. Bulbs require cold temperatures to go dormant so they can flower when the weather warms. Plant bulbs in autumn for a riot of spring color. Getting them in the ground at the proper time is just one consideration when planning your bulb garden. Proper care after planting also is important. Always follow the instructions for your variety of bulb on top of general bulb growing guidelines.

Step 1

Plant soon after the bulbs are purchased to prevent drying or rotting. The ideal planting window is when evening temperatures drop below 50 degrees but there are at least six weeks before the ground freezes.

Step 2

Choose a bed that is well-drained and receives plenty of sun in the springtime. Check for drainage by thoroughly wetting the area. If standing puddles drain within 5 hours, the bed is fine; otherwise build it up 2 to 3 inches with compost.

Step 3

Loosen the soil with a hoe or shovel 6 to 10 inches deep.

Step 4

Dig holes to a depth three times the width of the bulb. Place the bulb in the hole with the pointed end facing up. Fill the hole with soil. Space bulbs 3 to 5 inches apart in circles.

Step 5

Keep soil moist until the ground freezes so the bulbs put out a strong root system. Avoid watering until spring so the bulbs will remain dormant through the winter.

Step 6

Fertilize bulbs the second year they are in the ground. Spread compost or a bulb fertilizer over the surface of the soil.

Tips and Warnings

  • Bulbs will not last through the winter if not planted; get them in the ground as soon as possible.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Hoe
  • Fertilizer


  • American Meadows
  • Flower Gardening Made Easy
Keywords: bulb planting, spring flower gardens, autumn planting

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.

Photo by: Andrea Kratzenberg: