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How and When to Plant Bulbs in the Fall

Planting bulbs in the fall will give you beautiful blooms in the spring, but not all bulbs are suitable. We’ll show you which bulbs to choose, and how and when to plant bulbs so that you have healthy, vibrant flowers when spring arrives.    

Skill Level: Beginner
  1. Step 1 Which Flower Bulbs Should you Plant in the Fall?

    tulip bulbs

    There are two types of flower bulbs. Hearty bulbs like tulips, daffodils, snowdrops and crocuses need to be cooled for a period of time before they’re planted, making them the perfect fall planting bulb for spring flowering. Tender bulbs like dahlias, begonias and gladiolus can not survive cold temperatures and therefore should be planted in the spring to bloom in the summer or fall.    

  2. Step 2 Choose Good Quality Bulbs

    healthy bulbs ready to plant

    Selecting good quality spring flowering bulbs is key to having a healthy, lush flower garden. Choose only those bulbs that are large, plump and firm, avoiding ones that are soft or have mould. As a general rule, the bigger the bulbs are, the more they bloom.    

  3. Step 3 Where to Plant Flower Bulbs in the Fall

    person planting bulb in soil

    When planting fall bulbs, ensure that you plant them at least 4 feet away from the house. The heat from your house during the winter months can warm up the close-planted bulbs and cause them to bloom early. You can plant bulbs right up until the ground freezing prevents you from digging. Avoid planting in areas with low drainage.    

  4. Step 4 Add Bulb Fertilizer to the Soil

    person adding bulb fertilizer to the soil

    Use a fertilizer made specifically for bulbs in the soil where you’re planting them. While some consider bonemeal a great fertilizer, it is less complete than a fertilizer made specifically for bulbs. Fertilize the planting area generously.    

  5. Step 5 Position the Flower Bulbs

    person positioning the flower bulbs in soil

    When positioning the bulbs in the soil, make sure to place them with the pointed end-up between 3- to 9-inches deep, depending on the type of bulb. Check the packaging to ensure you’re planting at the right depth. Remember, the depth referenced is where the base of the bulb should be when planted, not the tip.    

  6. Step 6 Add Soil and Water

    person watering soil

    Once planted, add additional soil to cover the area and then water liberally, but ensure that you don’t exceed the specified amount for the type of flowers you’ve planted. Add an additional layer of mulch for added protection against weeds and other growth.    

  7. Step 7 Aftercare of Flower Bulbs in the Spring

    mother and daughter admiring garden

    Make sure you continue to water according to the directions for your bulbs. Try to maintain a soil pH level of about 6 to 7 for optimal colouring. Keep your soil well drained as over-watering can cause the bulbs to rot. Don’t trim the leaves too short when they start to wither, as they soak up the sun and nutrients that will help next years bloom look great.    

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