Planting Outdoor Flower Bulbs


Planting flower bulbs is an easy way to liven up a garden, border or yard. Consider choosing hardy bulbs in your area because you don't have to dig them up in the fall for winter storage. However, if you decide on tender bulbs, they will need to be stored each winter in order to survive year to year. "Bulb" is a category of flowers that now includes not only flowers with true bulbs as their underground root structures but also rhizomes, tubers and corms.

Step 1

Decide on when you should plant your flower bulbs. If the bulbs are hardy in your area (zones 1 to 9), then plant them in the fall before or closely after the first frost. If the bulbs are tender in your area and cannot tolerate your cold winters, then plant them in the spring after the last frost. If you live in a warm climate, usually zones 10-11, you can plant bulbs specific for your area anytime.

Step 2

Choose a site in full sun or in partial shade. Most bulbs do fine in both, but check the planting instructions that came with your bulbs to see if they need one over the other.

Step 3

Improve the soil conditions. This is necessary in soil that is not well draining, but all planting beds can usually be improved. Take a hoe or tiller and turn over the top 12 to 18 inches of dirt. Then, mix in 3 to 4 inches of rich organic matter, such as peat moss or compost.

Step 4

Plant the bulbs according to their kind. There are many different bulbs, but in general, true bulbs and corms are planted to a depth that is about two to three times more than the bulbs are in diameter (width). Rhizomes and tubers are planted near the soil's surface, but again it depends on the plant.

Step 5

Backfill the soil, and pack it down lightly to get rid of any air pockets. Water the area with a couple inches of water.

Step 6

Spread mulch around the planting site. Generally, 2 to 6 inches of organic mulch, such as bark or pine needles, will suffice. More extreme environments (cold or hot) need more mulch. Mulch helps maintain even soil temperatures in both summer and winter and helps retain moisture.

Things You'll Need

  • Hoe or tiller
  • Organic matter
  • Trowel
  • Water
  • Mulch


  • Planting Bulbs
  • Wilson Bros Nursery: How To Plant Flower Bulbs
Keywords: plant bulbs, bulbs outdoors, tender bulbs, hardy bulbs

About this Author

Melissa Lewis graduated from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has written over 20 episodes for the radio drama entitled "A Work in Progress." She also writes for several online outlets, including Gardenguides, Travels and Examiner, and is currently finalizing a movie script to be filmed in 2010.