Planting Spring Flower Bulbs: Tips and Tools | Gardening tips and how-to gardening guides


This is part two of a two-part series on choosing and planting spring-flowering bulbs. For more information on choosing the right bulbs for your garden, see Part 1.

Planting bulbs is one of the most satisfying garden activities. Going outside on a beautiful fall day and planting potential flowers in the ground is a pleasure. You’ll enjoy anticipating not just next spring’s bloom, but years to come as well.

where to plant

Bulbs should always be planted in well-drained, sunny areas. Here are some suggestions on where you might put them:

Near an entrance. It’s good to have bulbs near where you enter and exit, whether that’s through a front or back door or near the garage. This gives you the opportunity to track their daily progress.

In a flower border. Choose bulbs that complement the perennials and other plants that will grow around them. Plant taller flower bulbs such as daffodils and tulips in the back, shorter ones in front. Cool colors such as blues and pinks fade, so plant them closer so you can see them. Brighter hues like white, yellow and orange pop even from a distance.

In a lawn. Smaller bulbs – crocuses, snowdrops, squill and snow glory – are perfect for this purpose. Two caveats: don’t plant them where the lawn will get a lot of water in the summer (otherwise the bulbs may rot) and don’t plant them if you need to mow before the foliage turns yellow. They might not bloom next year.

Under trees. If you like the idea of ​​flowers growing under your deciduous trees, again, opt for the smaller bulbs. Since they are planted only two or three inches deep, they are less likely to disturb tree roots. Don’t plant bulbs under conifers, they will never get enough sun to thrive.

Some garden pros advise that a planting will look more natural if you toss the bulbs on the ground and plant them where they land. Sounds good in theory, but plant roots, rocks, or compacted soil can make it impractical. Evenly spaced bulbs look unnatural, so whether you throw them or place them, aim for informal clusters.

Trowels or spades are essential for planting bulbs.

What you will need

A trowel or spade will do. A trowel is good for smaller bulbs that are only planted a few inches deep. If your soil is loose and easy to dig up, or if you’re placing bulbs in tight spaces, such as around perennials, a long trowel may suffice. Trowels often have a ruler etched into the metal, so finding the right depth is easy.

For holes that need to be deeper than a few inches, such as daffodil or tulip bulbs, you may have better luck with a shovel. This also applies if the ground is compacted or rocky. A spade has a step on the blade that allows you to push with your foot, using the leverage of your whole body to dig rather than just your arms.

If you are planting dozens of bulbs, a bulb planter is another option. A bulb planter has a tapered metal cylinder. When dipped into the ground and then pulled up, it lifts a plug of dirt and leaves a hole.

If you have soil that is so compact that it is difficult to dig, get an auger. It is a drill in the shape of a spiral which is placed at the end of an electric drill. It twists in the ground, pushing the ground up and creating a hole.


If possible, amend the soil with compost before planting. You won’t need to fertilize the bulbs the first year, but you will in subsequent years.

Choose a dry day when the soil is moist. Do not plant when the soil is wet or too dry. Wet soil will compact as you work around it, and dry soil is difficult to dig up.

Take the bulbs out of the package. Don’t worry if the bulbs have a bit of mold on them, but throw out anything that might rot.

The planting depth of a bulb depends on the species and sometimes even on the variety. Follow the depth recommendations on the planting label. Large bulbs like daffodils and tulips should be planted deeper than smaller bulbs like crocuses. Bulbs that are not planted deep enough may not grow the following year or be dug up by animals.

Dig the hole to the right depth and place the bulb in it. The root end goes down and the pointed end goes up. Replace the soil, gently firming it over the bulb to eliminate air pockets. Give it some water to rehydrate the roots, but don’t create a mud puddle. Mulch with a few inches of straw or chopped leaves after planting.

You have finished! Now make yourself a hot drink, sit down and imagine how beautiful your garden will look, next spring and for years after.


About Author

Comments are closed.