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How to Plant Spring Bulbs in February

By Melissa Lewis ; Updated September 21, 2017

Spring bulbs acquired in February need to be planted (or stored) within a few days to prevent them from drying out. Daffodils, tulips and lilies are just a few of the spring bulbs available. They are all winter hard,y and as long as the ground is workable, they can be planted outdoors, even in February. If not, you will need to plant them indoors and “force” them to grow by imitating their outdoor winter environment.

Planting Outdoors

Till the top 12 inches of your soil with a garden rake. Add several inches of organic matter such as compost or peat moss. Mix it all together. This location should be in the sun or partial shade.

Dig holes. Spring bulbs are usually planted anywhere from 2 to 8 inches below the soil. Generally, a hole that is three times as deep as the height of the bulb will suffice.

Space multiple bulbs 3 to 12 inches apart. Large bulbs (such as lilies) should be spaced further apart, while small bulbs (such as crocuses) can be planted closer together.

Plant the bulbs with the tips facing up and backfill the soil. Pack it down and water the new planting site.

Planting Indoors

Fill a pot or larger halfway with “soil-less” potting mix. The pot should have drainage holes and be at least 8 inches deep.

Layer the bulbs on top of the potting mix with the tips facing up. They should be close together but not touching. Add more potting mix until half of the bulbs are covered; the top half of the bulbs will be exposed. Water the bulbs well.

Check on your bulbs every week or so to be sure the soil is not dry. Add only a little bit of water to keep the soil moist.

Set the pot in a cool location for 10 to 12 weeks. Ideal temperatures are between 40 and 50 degrees Farenheit. A garage, attic, crawl space, basement or refrigerator may work for you. If you are storing the pot in the refrigerator, put it in an open plastic bag first to help retain moisture.

Take the pot out after 10 to 12 weeks and place it in an area with indirect sunlight. Wait until green shoots emerge from the bulbs and move the pot to a sunny location. Keep the soil slightly moistened.


Things You Will Need

  • Garden rake
  • Organic matter
  • Water
  • Pot
  • Soil-less potting mix
  • Plastic bag


  • Paperwhites and amaryllis bulbs are not planted indoors in the same manner as described above. Paperwhites are grown on a bed of rocks and water and need cool storage for only three weeks. Amaryllises are planted one per pot (soak in water overnight first) with only the necks exposed. They do not need cold storage to grow.

About the Author


Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.