Planting Fall Bulbs for Spring Blooms

Get an early welcome to spring with tulips, crocus, daffodils, and more when you plant bulbs this fall.

When to plant:

When the overnight temperatures start dropping, around 40°overnights or 6-8 weeks before the ground freezes. You can buy bulbs before this time and we highly recommend it so you’re ready to plant! Store the fall bulbs around 60 to 65 degrees F in a dry area before being planted.

Things to consider when choosing bulbs:

Bloom Time – Read the labels of bulbs to see when they are expected to bloom and you can plant for a succession of blooms through the spring into summer.  This bulb bloom graph from Netherland Bulb Company is showing the planting depth and bloom time for fall planted bulbs to help envision the succession of color.

fall bulb planting bloom times and depths


Where to Plant – First, make sure the soil is well-draining. Bulbs don’t like wet feet or else they may rot. Add amendments like compost or top soil to ensure proper drainage. Try not to plant in low lying areas where water pools and stays wet for awhile. Add Bulb Tone to your soil when you plant to give them proper nutrients before and after blooming.

Most bulbs need full or part sun. Check the bulb packaging to see sun requirements.

Layout –  Bulbs look best in groups. Consider adding them to areas where you already have perennial plants to fill in bare spots. They will brighten that area early spring and then the foliage will be camouflaged by other herbaceous perennials and shrubs as they fill out.

It’s called “naturalizing” when you plant bulbs in sporadic groups throughout your garden to make it look like more natural, like a meadow.

Bloom Colors – You may like a certain color repeated throughout your yard or if you want to dive into color combinations you can go back to what we learned in art class and use color schemes! Analogous, complementary, monochromatic, and split complementary colors are color schemes that you can build with flowers and other plants!

List of Fall Bulbs at Drummers:

Allium – purple pom poms atop wand-like stems.
Crocus – very early color. Some even bloom in snow!
Daffodil (Narcissus) – sunny yellows and white. These are great in groups. Great for forcing.
Grape Hyacinth (Muscari) – purple or pink.
Hyacinth – fragrance that will stop you in your tracks! White, pink, purple. Great for forcing.
Tulip – Huge variety of colors, sizes and bloom times. Have a ball! Great for forcing.

Cornell University actually did tests with planting bulbs with other perennials to see how they looked. Click here to see the results!