How to Layer a Bulb in Garden Soil


Planting spring-flowering bulbs takes advanced planning since the bulbs need to be placed in the ground in the fall or early winter. These bulbs will erupt in masses of beautiful color during the following spring. Purchase the largest bulbs in the fall to ensure healthy growth and good flower production. Larger bulbs are more likely to blossom year after year. Look for plump, clean and firm bulbs.

Step 1

Spread 1 inch of compost over the top of the planting area. Add 1/2 inch of sand on top of the compost. Dig the soil to the depth of 12 inches and mix the amendments into the soil. This will give the bulbs a food source for the following years and ensure that the soil drains well. Excessively wet soil can cause bulb rot.

Step 2

Add 1 pound of all-purpose fertilizer for every 100 square feet of your planting area. Sprinkle the fertilizer over the top of the soil then toss the soil around to mix in the fertilizer. This encourages the growth of the bulbs for the second year after planting.

Step 3

Dig your planting area 3 to 4 times the depth of the largest bulb's height.

Step 4

Place the first layer of bulbs 1 to 2 inch apart in the hole. The largest bulbs are planted first. Make sure that the nose or pointy end is upward and the root plate is down.

Step 5

Cover this layer of bulbs with 2 inches of soil. Sprinkle enough water over the bulbs to settle the soil.

Step 6

Place the next layer of bulbs on top of the previous layer. These should be smaller bulbs. Cover with soil and water. Add more layers until you have all the bulbs you want planted.

Step 7

Fill the hole with soil and water the planting area well. Do not compact the soil over the bulbs.

Tips and Warnings

  • Check the quality of the bulbs before buying them at garden centers and retailers. Stores offer only a limited range of types of bulbs and they are commonly small in size. Bulbs on display may dry out, rot or prematurely sprout. Mail order companies usually keep the bulbs in cold storage until it is time to ship them out. They also carry a better variety.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Sand
  • Shovel
  • All-purpose fertilizer
  • Large bulbs
  • Medium bulbs
  • Small bulbs
  • Water


  • Virginia Tech cooperative Extension: America's Anniversary Garden: Bulbs for a Red, white, and Blue Spring Garden
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Start Spring Color in the Fall
Keywords: spring bulbs, layering bulbs, mass bulb planting

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.