Planting Flower Bulbs in the Fall

Planting flower bulbs is quick & easy … and foolproof—well almost.

Fall bulbs are desired by both the novice and master gardeners, however, there are so few issues to consider. Bulbs are awesome because gardeners of all skill levels can put all their effort into the fun part of gardening … “designing with a cornucopia of color!”

Fall allows for a “second bump” of seasonal planting for soon-to-com spring blooming bulbs. Planting in the fall is optimal, because it allows a jumpstart to next season’s spring growth. The cool weather helps to make your planting a more enjoyable experience for working. The light breezes keep pesky insects away and the cooler weather allows spring blooming bulbs to winter over.

  • When you have the planting bulbs in hand, plant them as soon when the ground is cool, when evening temperatures average between 40- 50 degrees Fahrenheit. You should plant at least six weeks before the ground freezes. This is most common in cold climates like Connecticut (zone 5-6). You can, if necessary, store your bulbs for a month or longer, if you keep them in a cool dry place. Some planting bulbs—such as Tulips, Crocus, Hyacinths, Grape Hyacinths, Scilla, and Snowdrops, require pre-chilling in order to bloom. To pre-chill, leave bulbs in their bags and place in a refrigerator for 6-10 weeks. Be careful not to store bulbs near fruit, especially apples, all ripening fruit give off ethylene gas. Ethylene gas can damage and or kill the flower inside the bulb. Once bulbs are chilled plant them at the coolest time of the year. Most importantly bulbs won’t last till next season, so make sure to plant them immediately.
  • Always read the label on your bulbs and when possible, consult the garden center expert in your area. Always keep the labels together with the bulbs until planting—you want to know what you’re planting, don’t you?
  • Decide where best to plant. You can plant bulbs just about anywhere in your garden as long as the soil drains well. Avoid areas where water collects, such as the bottom of an embankment. Bulbs really love the sun and in many areas, your spring garden can be very sunny, since the leaves on your trees have probably not yet unfurled.
  • Prepare your planting bed. Make sure your planting soil is loose. If it’s a new area your planting, rather than an established garden bed, chances are the soil could use amendments—organic matter like compost, a few coffee grounds or peat moss mixed in. Most soil amendments can be gotten at most big box stores, as well as local garden centers.

Look for our next entry:

Step-by-step instructions on “how to best plant bulbs!”

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