As the autumn leaves start to fall, many homeowners begin the clean-up from the year's growing season and think of the gardening season as over. Gardeners know that the real work for next year's season is just getting started. With the cool fall season comes the time to plant the spring flower bulbs for tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other plants that start to peek through the last winter snow.
Know your particular bulb needs. Different types of bulbous flowers need different sunlight. Read the packaging to know what your needs are to plan where you wish to plant them. Tulips and daffodils prefer all to most sun while hyacinths and Grecian wildflowers will grow fine sunny or shady areas of your garden.
Prepare your soil. Bulbs are living masses of thick leaves protecting the next season's flower growth, so they will rot if sitting in marshy soil. Your soil must be well-draining. Add sand, fertilizer or compost as needed to improve the nutrients and soil condition. You can take a sampling of your soil to your local extension office or full-service garden center to see what you need to do to improve your soil.
Skip the specialized bulb planters found in the garden sections. Bulbous plants give a striking show when planted in groups, and those individual hole cutters can take forever when planting a grouping. Dig a trench for lines of flowers or a hole to plant a mass grouping to the depths specified for the type of bulb you are planting. Larger-sized bulbs, like daffodils and tulips, tend to need planting at three times the depth of the size of the bulb, smaller bulbs less.
Place each bulb into place by placing the crown up and the root tip down. Your new growth comes from the crown and can't grow sideways to erect itself. Cover with soil.
Mulch the area where you planted your bulbs and keep an eye out for signs of squirrels digging. You may have to lay a chicken wire barrier down for the winter to protect your bulbs from squirrels. A heavy mulch usually does the trick. In early spring when the first signs of your plants begin to peek through, push the mulch away from the plant to help prevent rot.