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Planting Bulbs in the Northeast

By Linda Batey ; Updated September 21, 2017
Spring tulips grow from bulbs.
purple and white tulip image by Jorge Moro from Fotolia.com

After a long winter in New England, gardeners begin to look for those first flowers of spring, and all of them come from bulbs that the gardeners planted in the fall. Crocus, Grecian windflowers, snow glories, daffodils, hyacinth, jonquils and tulips create a visual symphony of color and texture that will last for decades if planted and maintained properly. To help you remember the basics, think L.I.N.E. (Location: well drained; Inches deep: 3 times bulb size; Nutrients:fertilize; Enjoy.)

Planting Fall Bulbs

Daffodil image by azzzh from Fotolia.com

Dig a hole with the small hand shovel to a depth of three times the length of the bulb. For instance, if a bulb is 2 inches long, dig a hole 6 inches deep. Loosen another inch of dirt in the bottom of the hole and mix in a teaspoon of the fertilizer. Use a ruler to make sure the hole is the proper depth.

Place the bulb in the hole with the tiny roots at the bottom. Depending on the bulb, there is usually a smooth bulge at the top. Put only one bulb in a single hole; it will provide more bulbs by itself as the years go by.

Grape hyacinth
perlhyazinthe image by Angelika Bentin from Fotolia.com

Pull the dirt you moved out of the hole back over the bulb and fill the hole to make it level with the surrounding ground. Add a bit more fertilizer on top of the ground and give the area a drink of water so it can begin root growth before the ground freezes and the bulb goes dormant.


Things You Will Need

  • Bulbs
  • Small garden hand shovel
  • Bulb-booster fertilizer
  • Ruler


  • While you can certainly plant bulbs in a flower bed, you can also "naturalize" them by planting them with no particular pattern in mind. You could plant bulbs starting at the edge of a wooded area and work them in, which makes it look as though Mother Nature planted them there.
  • When daffodils and jonquils stop giving a huge mound of flowers, they need to be divided. Use a sharp spade and cut vertically down around the clump of greenery and pull the entire clump out. Shake off the dirt, and you will find that the clump is all bulbs, ready to be replanted.


  • Don't place bulbs in an area that is wet in the spring and doesn't drain well. If it doesn't rot the bulb, you might get a blossom, but it isn't likely.

About the Author


Linda Batey has been working as a freelance writer for more than two years, specializing in travel, gardening, and herbal and home remedies. She has been published in "Gardening Inspirations" magazine and various online sites. Batey holds an associate degree in paralegal from Beal College. She also is knowledgeable is