How to Plant Fall Bulbs


Fall bulbs are flower bulbs that bloom in the spring. They must be planted in the autumn before the ground freezes because the cold temperatures spark the chemical reaction that allows the bulbs to blossom when it warms. Planting fall bulbs requires some work with the soil to make sure it is sufficiently soft and rich to accommodate the flowers' growth.

Step 1

Remove the weeds from the planting area by hand. Till the flower bed about a foot deep with a hand tiller, loosening the dirt and removing stones, roots and other debris from the soil.

Step 2

Add a thin layer of phosphorus supplement to the top of the soil, then work it through the loose dirt with a rake. Smooth the top of the garden bed.

Step 3

Dig a trench in which to plant the bulbs. As a rule, fall bulbs are planted in holes that are two to three times as deep as their height. For example, that means that a smaller bulb would probably be planted three to four inches deep, while larger bulbs such as tulip bulbs would be planted six to eight inches deep.

Step 4

Slide the bulbs into the trench, pointed end up. The flat side, called the root plate, should be pressed firmly into the dirt. Cover the bulbs with soil.

Step 5

Cover the entire garden bed with a two- to three-inch-deep layer of mulch. The mulch will keep the bulbs warm and moist during the winter months.

Step 6

Water the bulbs lightly after planting. After that, leave them alone until they begin to sprout in the spring.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand tiller
  • Phosphorus supplement
  • Rake
  • Gardening shovel
  • Mulch


  • University of Illinois Extension
Keywords: fall bulbs, planting fall bulbs, planting bulbs

About this Author

Katie Leigh is a freelance writer and editor based in Chicago. A Loyola University New Orleans graduate with a bachelor's degree in communications, Leigh has worked as a copy editor, page designer and reporter for several daily newspapers and specialty publications since 2005.