Achieve Non-Stop Blooms with Fall-Planted Bulbs
In the midst of a sweltering heat wave, what better way to cool off than browsing pics of tulips, daffodils, and crocuses? It's like air-conditioning for the mind! That’s right, fall-planted bulbs are back! If you want to have a spectacular spring display next year, this is the time to pre-order bulbs for fall-planting.
Flowering bulbs come in a wide variety of species, colors, and plant habits. Compared to other plantings, fall-planted bulbs are relatively low-maintenance, requiring just one or two initial waterings around planting time. The reward for this small effort is nearly carefree flowers that return year-after-year, with some species more likely to naturalize than others.
Aside from being easy to grow, fall-planted bulbs bloom at different points during the year, mostly from late winter to early summer, depending on the species and variety. This means, we gardeners can strategize around bloom time to achieve impressive results! For the best bulb pairings, note the bloom time listed for each variety: this will make it easier to sync or stagger blooms depending on your needs. Find an outline of bloom times below with planting instructions at the bottom of this post.
LATE WINTER / EARLY SPRING
LATE SPRING / EARLY SUMMER
BULB PLANTING BASICS
The ideal planting time is when nighttime temperatures are around 40-50°F, or about six weeks before the ground freezes. For us here in the Northeast, plant in October for maximum success. Early- to mid-November is also okay. Most spring bulbs need a chilly period to bloom, so don't worry too much about getting them in the ground early or before your first frosts; however, after the ground has frozen, it can be difficult to get the bulbs established well enough to stay rooted during freeze-thaw cycles during winter.
Always plant bulbs into well-draining soil. Heavy clay soils often lead to rot. Pay close attention to spacing and depth requirements, but don't worry too much about fertility: average garden soil can lead to great flowers. If you're spacing very tightly and harvesting for flowers year after year, you'll want to apply a bit of compost and/or mulch, but other than that, amendments are rarely required unless you plant in exhausted soil. And if you do choose to fertilize, you can wait until the spring, since the dormant bulbs won't need it over the winter.