If you want tulips, daffodils and crocus to bloom in your garden in spring, the time to plant them is in the fall. These flowers bloom from bulbs, which are underground storage units that are full of energy for the following season.

Bulbs start rooting as soon as they are planted and need time to become established before winter. The larger the bulb, the earlier it needs to be in the ground.

Once planted, bulbs need 14-16 weeks of temperatures below 40° F in order to produce flowers in the spring. Tulips, however, are one exception – you can plant these as late as you can get them into the soil, according to the University of Minnesota Extension.

Tips for planting bulbs

Tonkadale Greenhouse tulips

  • It is important to choose your site carefully. Full sun with well-drained soil is best.
  • Keep in mind that soil near foundations, particularly on a southern or western exposure, will warm up faster than less protected areas. In turn, bulbs planted there will flower earlier than others, according to UM Extension. Therefore, these soils should be well mulched in order to help keep soil temperatures at a more constant level. If these bulbs bloom too early, they could be damaged by cold.
  • Mix bone meal or bulb fertilizer into the soil. Bone Meal® or Bulb Tone® promotes vigorous blooming and sturdy stems in the spring.
  • Dig a hole two to three times the height of the bulb for planting. Place the bulb pointy side up. Planting bulbs too deep may cause them to bloom too late or not bloom at all.

This video from digdropdone.com explains the process.

Staggering color

To ensure continuous color in the spring, stagger the bloom times of the varieties you choose.

Bulb bloom times

Very early spring

Early spring

Mid spring

Late spring

Early summer

Crocus Daffodil Daffodil Fritillaria Allium
Snowdrop Crocus Fritillaria Bluebells Lilies
Lungwort Hyacinth Tulip Lilies Iris
Scilla Muscari   

Protect your bulbs

Some critters see bulbs as a tasty treat. To protect your buried bulbs:

  • Line or cover the holes with chicken wire.
  • Repellant products are available. We recommend Repels All®.
  • Water your freshly planted bulbs thoroughly and continue to water them until the first hard freeze.
  • You may mulch bulbs for extra protection and moisture retention. Wait to do this until temperatures are consistently lower than 40° F.

Tonkadale Greenhouse has a wide variety of bulbs in a spectrum of colors for fall planting. Our staff can help you pick the best ones for your yard.