How to Troubleshoot Flower Bulb Plantings


Flower bulbs are easy to plant and easy to care for, but they are not completely trouble-free. One problem with planting bulbs is that you don't know there is a problem until the following spring. You can take steps to make sure that each bulb you plant will grow and bloom, whether you are just setting out bulbs or improving an established planting.

Step 1

Plant your bulbs at the correct depth. It is easy to over or under estimate how many inches of soil are covering your bulbs, so if you need to, use a ruler to check the depth. Read the information that came with your bulbs. It may be nothing more than a small diagram on the label. Bulbs look so much alike it is easy to get them confused, so if you are planting lots of flower bulbs, keep each kind with its own package. A general rule for planting depth is to cover the bulb with soil that is two times as deep as the height of the bulb. For example, a bulb that is 2 inches tall should be planted 6 inches deep; it will have 4 inches of soil covering it. Use one of the slightly cone-shaped bulb planting tools with inches marked on it to dig a precise hole for individual bulbs.

Step 2

Water your flower bulbs properly. Bulbs should be planted in an area with good drainage to avoid rot. But they also need sufficient water through a dry spell. Water the ground over your bulb garden to make sure that adequate moisture is available during dry periods.

Step 3

Protect your bulbs from deer and digging or burrowing animals. Tulips and lilies are like candy to deer, and they will dig them and eat them even when there is plenty of other food available. Gophers eat many kinds of bulbs, and mice use vacant mole tunnels to gain easy access to bulbs. Use hardware cloth mesh to keep burrowing animals from eating your bulbs. If you are planting bulbs in a bed, till the soil and remove it from the planting bed, and make a liner from hardware cloth for the bottom and sides of the bed. Then refill the liner with the prepared soil and plant your bulbs. The roots will easily grow through the mesh. If you want to use a top, try some wire fencing mesh with openings of at least 4 inches square. Place it an inch or two under the soil surface. This won't keep small rodents out, but it will discourage deer from digging.

Things You'll Need

  • Existing bulb plantings
  • Flower bulbs
  • Prepared bed
  • Bulb planting tool, optional
  • Hardware cloth, optional


  • Bulb cage
  • Planting bulbs
  • Growing tips for bulbs

Who Can Help

  • Bulb planting instructions
  • Tips for planting bulbs
Keywords: troubleshoot flower bulbs, flower bulb problems, help for flower bulbs

About this Author

Fern Fischer writes about quilting and sewing, and she professionally restores antique quilts to preserve these historical pieces of women's art. She also covers topics of organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family. For over 35 years, her work has been published in print and online.