How to Plant Bulbs From a Catalog


Many gardeners order bulbs through catalogs, either because they cannot find the particular bulbs in their local garden centers or because the catalog prices are lower than those found locally. Whatever the reason, the bulbs that are ordered from a catalog will need to be planted just like any other bulb. There are some things, however, that you need to know about planting bulbs you have ordered from a catalog.

Step 1

Plant your bulbs immediately or as soon as possible after they arrive. Most catalog companies will not ship your bulbs to you until it is the proper time to plant them. From your address, they know in which climate zone you live and will ship at the appropriate time for planting in your zone.

Step 2

Dig a planting hole. You can usually determine the depth from the instructions on the package in which you find your bulbs. If there are no directions, a general guideline is to dig a hole as deep as three times the diameter of the bulb. Place the bulb in the hole with the flat base facing down. Backfill around the bulb with soil.

Step 3

Add organic material to the planting hole if necessary. If the soil does not crumble easily in your hand, you should add some type of organic material, such as compost and/or shredded leaves. This will help to promote good drainage, which bulbs prefer.

Step 4

Apply 3 to 4 inches of any type of organic mulch. After planting the bulb, you need to provide it with protection from harsh weather conditions. Mulch will provide this protection, as well as enable the soil to retain moisture.

Step 5

Water until the ground around your bulb is slightly moist. Watering your bulbs after planting will encourage them to start setting their roots. There is no need to water them again until they begin to show new growth.

Tips and Warnings

  • If you are unable to plant your bulbs as soon as they arrive, store them in a cool, dark, dry place until you can plant them. Always make sure that you choose the appropriate planting site for the bulbs you are planting. The planting conditions for the bulbs which you are ordering will be included in their description. If you have any questions, call the toll-free telephone number for the catalog company. If you do not have your own compost, you can buy bags of compost at any garden center or nursery. Do not fertilize your bulbs when you plant them. Most bulbs are either planted in the fall for spring blooms or in the spring for fall blooms. This means that they need a period of rest before starting their growing cycle. Fertilizer will only disturb this rest and encourage the bulbs to begin growing before they are really ready. Always make sure that you understand the return policies of the catalog company. Do not order from companies that will not replace bulbs that arrive damaged.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel or garden spade
  • Mulch


  • Colorblends
  • Van Engelen Inc.
  • Brent and Becky's Bulbs

Who Can Help

  • Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center
Keywords: how to plant bulbs from a catalog, ordering bulbs from a catalog, ordering spring-flowering bulbs, ordering fall-flowering bulbs, planting bulbs

About this Author

Dena Bolton has written for local newspapers and magazines since 1980. She currently writes online for various sites, focusing on gardening. She has a BA in Political Science and German and graduate credits in Latin American Studies from East Tennessee State University. In addition, she is a TN Master Gardener.