Planting Flower Bulbs in the Fall

This is probably my most enjoyed undertaking of the autumn planting season. I just love to have tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and all the supporting cast of players filling the garden the following spring. With the beautiful colors and scents that flowering bulbs give the garden, buying and planting all those bulbs in Autumn’s cool, crisp days has become a yearly ritual.

The First Season of Bloom

Daydream Tulips

Daydream Tulips -Source: peddhapati

The first season is a guaranteed success thanks to the Holland growers who fatten those bulbs to blooming size. All the sustenance needed and next years bloom are tucked inside the compact storage units.

To buy bulbs that give the best spring display, look for solid bulbs which still have their tunics of papery brown skin attached; they should also feel “heavy” for their size.

Follow 3 Easy Steps For Spring Flowering Bulbs

When do you plant bulbs for a Spring garden show? In the Autumn! It is easy to have the most gorgeous flowers imaginable just by popping in Dutch grown bulbs. I’ll show you how.

tulip bulbs

3 Easy Steps To Plant Flower Bulbs + 1 to Keep Them Blooming

Every fall, like many gardeners everywhere, I plant spring blooming bulbs. It is one of the easiest ways to usher in the new growing season and greet the spring- with a burst of colorful Dutch grown spring blooming bulbs. The flowers are bright and colorful, they are often fragrant, and there is nothing easier, since healthy Dutch bulbs hold all that is necessary for that first year’s bloom.

Often the flowers will return year after year, although tulips are sometimes a little pickier about where they will thrive.

Even if you think you can’t grow plants successfully, I bet you will still be able to grow spring blooming bulbs.

‘Victory’ variety – Source: Steve Snodgrass

Do you have a sunny space in your garden? Is the soil well drained and of average fertility? That is the perfect place for a big group of spring blooming bulbs! Try to plant at least ten tulips together about four inches apart, although twenty or more makes an even better show.

Have a shadier spot? Use daffodils, instead of tulip bulbs. Still, even daffodils need some sun or they won’t bloom well (or maybe not at all).

Use the same approximate number for daffodils and much more for the really little bulbs and the crocus corms.

Spring bulbs look best in groups, although they can also be very pretty when “naturalized”, which is scattering them in clumps throughout an area, as though they were growing in the wild.

Difficulty: easy


  • tulip bulbs or other spring blooming bulbs
  • bone meal
  • perennial plants to grow during the summer


  • garden trowel or bulb planter
  • long handled shovel (optional)

Buy Quality Bulbs


Buy healthy bulbs of good size and weight, heavy for their size. Twelve to fourteen centimeters is an excellent size for tulips. Double nose daffodils (two growing bulb tips) are usually excellent for narcissus family), other bulbs vary in size – get the largest possible.

Purchase bone meal.

Plant Them Properly


Dig separate holes about eight inches deep for tulips and most daffodils, three times the height of the bulb for other bulbs. This method (individual holes) can give a more naturalistic effect. It also ensures room for bulbs to multiply.

Another method is to dig a trench area to the proper depth, using a standard round point shovel. This method saves time and effort. Works well when you want a large block of flowers.

Add a small amount of bone meal to the hole or some trowels full to the trench. Lay bulbs pointed end up in the holes.

Cover with soil and firm in.

On The Shopping List For 2nd Step

Fiskars Bulb Transplanter (7983)

Fiskars Bulb Transplanter

I just use my trowel, but it you are planting lots of bulbs, especially when naturalizing daffodils or crocus, this tool which lifts out a plug of soil, might be just what you need.


Layering Flower Bulbs

A garden cannot have too many crocus in my opinion. Plant them along with late blooming daffodils to deter rodents (mice and squirrels like to eat crocus, but hate poisonous daffodil bulbs).




Source: anendel

Water Well


Water bulbs lightly.

That is all you have to do to have a beautiful spring garden:

  1. Buy bulbs,
  2. plant them,
  3. and water to provide some moisture.

Tulips For Spring Zing

Tulips From Holland

Tulips From Holland -Source: badeendjuh


What To Do After The Bloom

What happens after we plant the bulbs and they bloom their hearts out this spring? The foliage, yes that’s right. The flowers fade, but those thick unruly leaves keep growing.

No one loves the bulbs foliage, but it is important for next years flower production, so what to do? My favorite way to cover bare spaces left by the disappearing foliage (and to cover it while the ripening process takes place) is to use late showing perennials.

Some perennials are slower to emerge from the ground in the spring, and then grow into full lush plants. These are the ideal partners for the spring blooming bulbs you planted in fall. This technique is called “overplanting”.

Two Favorite Plants To Overplant Bulbs

Plant some of these amongst your tulips and daffodils- it will extend the gorgeousness of that flowerbed long after the brightly colored bulb blooms are gone. Hostas grow best in areas under trees and shrubs, while daylilies shine out from open sunny beds.

Springtime Maintenance Step



Three steps are all you need to get started, but to maintain your garden for years to come, remember the following tips:

  • Don’t remove the foliage until it has died down on its own.
  • Lightly fertilize while the plants are actively growing.
  • Use this optional method: Lift, store, and replanttulips every year for best results; lift, divide and replant daffodils and smaller bulbs as needed (about every fourth year or when blooming diminishes)

Stems And Leaves- Leave Them!

If you are thinking about cutting flowers for bouquets, plant a mixed bag of tulips. Remember that the more stem you cut, the less strength for next year’s flowers. That should not prevent you from having a spring bouquet, however.


Emperor Tulips

Emperor Tulip Bulb, Jazz Mix, (10 Pack) Stunning Perennial Tulips, Bulbs, Large Flowers

Emperor Tulip Bulb, Jazz Mix, (10 Pack) Stunning Perennial Tulips, Bulbs, Large Flowers


Choosing Between Daffodils and Tulips?

Sometimes it is a choice of one or the other. This comparison can help make the decision easier.

  • If deer are a problem for your area, they won’t bother daffodils, while tulips seems to be a gourmet treat.
  • If you live in the South, daffodils do well, and don’t require extra chilling to bloom.
  • Most daffodils keep multiplying making new plants; tulips often are short lived in the garden.
  • Tulips come in an array of gorgeous colors and forms; daffodils are shades of yellow to white with more limited variation of form.


A Perennial Tulip for Me

Lucky Strike with white trimmed petals.

Lucky Strike with white trimmed petals. Source: choking sun

Lucky Strike Chilled Tulip Bulbs

The Triumph ‘Lucky Strike’ is one of my favorite varieties.

The coloring is clear and vibrant, and they were long lasting perennial tulips in my garden.


Winter Cold Is Important For Tulip Flowers

Forcing Bulbs

This is the way tulips and other bulbs can bloom indoors, and in the Deep Southern portion of the USA.

They need chilling to flower.

When forcing bulbs for indoor winter flowers buy pre-chilled bulbs. This will mimic the natural cold dormancy that comes from planting your tulips, crocus, and other bulbs in the fall.

If you have a garden in the deep South this is also a necessary step for you to have those gorgeous spring blooms.

How to Force Flowers

The graceful lily flowering class is late, the last of the tulips here in my garden. They also tend to be perennial, coming back year after year, unlike many of their larger relations.


Why Dutch Grown Flowering Bulbs?

Fields of Keukenhof

Fields of Keukenhof Source: Roel van Deursen


The Netherlands has ideal growing conditions for many of our favorite spring flowering bulbs, including Tulips, Daffodils, and Crocus.

They grow these bulbs to maximum quality, and ship them around the world. If you tried to grow your own tulips from seed, or from offshoots, it is unlikely that you could replicate the size and beauty of the Dutch grown ones.

The daffodils and minor bulbs might be different, they do multiply on their own, but again, gardeners in the USA can rarely duplicate the high quality and health of these bulbs. Dutch growers have perfected the process.

The sandy soil, specialized watering systems that deliver moisture in just the right amounts and time, with temperature and humidity levels engineered for optimum conditions means that the results are far beyond normal, most anywhere else.

This is all done within an economical way that allows the rest of us to afford a large display of gorgeous spring bloom.

The Dutch expertise at its finest, the Lily flowered mixture in tropical tones that stand out in the spring landscape. This type of tulip is one of the most dependably perennial in my Zone 5 Ohio garden.

I prefer this color group because it provides such a wonderful contrast to the rest of the surrounding yellow, white, and pink flowers of other bulbs, shrubs and trees.

For more on why the Dutch excel in growing bulbs, read here.



Posted on

February 20