How to Grow: Planting Spring Flowering Bulbs

Learn the best ways to plant and care for tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other spring flowering bulbs in fall for a beautiful flower garden in spring. This video includes information on planting, fertilizing and layering the bulbs. For more garden videos, check out the National Gardening Association


Hi I’m Charlie Nardozzi of the National Gardening Association. It may look like fall all around me, but I’m thinking about spring. Today I’d like to talk to you about how to plant spring flowering bulbs. There are a number of bulbs that flower in spring, such as the traditional daffodils, tulips, and crocus, and the unusual scilla, fritillaria, and  galanthus. The one thing they all have in common is they need to be planted in fall and chilled through the winter in order to flower in the spring. That means you need to plant them in different times in different areas of the country.

So for the North you need to plant them in September and October. Where as in the South and West you might have to plant them in November in December. As long as the temperatures are below sixty degrees in the soil you’re in good shape. If you’re in real mild weather areas then you might have to use special bulbs, such as the species tulips or the Paperwhite narcissus, that don’t need a winter chilling to grow.

In order to get the most flowering from your bulb plantings it’s good to plant early, mid and late season varieties of the same type of bulb or just plant different bulbs. You can choose tulips, daffodils or even the little crocuses. These bulbs bloom at different times throughout the spring so they’ll extend your flowering season for a number of weeks. Another thing is that when you’re planting don’t just plant individual bulbs here and there like little soldiers. You want to take a spot in your garden and concentrate the bulbs in a smaller space. You may not use as much room in the garden, but it’ll be a much more dramatic effect when they bloom in the spring. Let me show you how to plant some of these great spring flowering bulbs.

You want to choose the location that’s in full sun with nice, well-drained soil. The nice thing about mixing bulbs in with your annual and perennial flowers is that once the bulbs are done blooming the annual and perennial flower foliage will cover them up so it doesn’t look so bad. In the garden you want to dig your hole about three to four times the height of the bulb deep. So if you have a two inch tall bulb you want to plant it about six to eight inches down into the soil. If you’re in an area where woodchucks, squirrels and voles are problems you can do a couple of  different things. You can plant daffodils. They don’t really like to eat daffodils at all. You can use a wire mesh fencing and cage and put it right in the hole and plant right in that. Or you can spread some crushed oyster shells. These are very sharp and when the little mice and voles come in there they don’t actually like eating their way through it.

Another additive you want to put in the base of your hole is fertilizer. You want to place that around just like you did with the oyster shells. The fertilizer will help the roots get established. The best time to fertilize in the future will be in the fall and early spring.

It’s time to plant. When you get your bulbs you want to make sure you have the basal plate of the bulb facing down. You want to plant your bulbs about three to six inches apart, depending upon the variety of bulb you have. You can cover it up now and you’ll be all set or you can do an interesting technique called layering. You can actually bury the bulbs and can put a smaller bulb on top of the bigger bulbs. I’m putting some of these tulips and these will go right up through the daffodils and flower at a little different time. And we’ll add crocus on the top layer. These will be the earliest bulbs to bloom. So now you’ve got three different kinds of bulbs.

In cold weather areas you might want to put a two to three inch layer of bark mulch over the top of the bed just for the first year to prevent heaving from freezing and thawing. It’s that simple. In the spring you’ll be amazed at the beauty of the colors and textures of the bulbs that you planted in your garden that previous fall.

Go here for a video on how to plant bulbs in a pot

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