What Flower Bulbs to Plant in the Fall – Spring Beauty

Spring FlowersThe temperatures are cooling, the days are getting shorter and your flower garden is looking a little tired. Now is not the time to give up on your garden. There are a few things you can do this time of year to keep you busy outside. How about doing a late summer clean-up and then planting some fall annuals? (Refer to Fall Flower Gardens for more suggestions.) Or how about planting some fall bulbs for next spring? Yes, next spring. Now is the time to get down and dirty and plan for a beautiful show of color when you’re most desiring it…..after a long winter. Read on to see what bulbs to plant in the fall to create spring beauty!

(Some of the links within this post are affiliate links on which I receive a small compensation from the sale of certain items.)

(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Convenience of Bulbs

Bulbs are relatively easy to plant and easy on your wallet. With just a little bit of effort and a small expense now, you will be wowed with a variety of colors from late winter through mid spring.

When to Grow

You want to plant bulbs after the ground cools to a temperature of about 50 to 60 degrees F (10 – 15.5 degrees C). In colder climates the soil usually reaches this temperature about 6 to 8 weeks before the ground freezes. This is typical in zones 1-7 on the USDA planting zones chart. Below is a chart from Garden Design as to when to plant spring flowering bulbs.

  • September to October — Zones 4 and 5
  • October to early November — Zones 6 and 7
  • November to early December — Zones 8 and 9
  • Late December to early January — Zone 10

Where to Plant Bulbs

Sun loving bulbs can be planted anywhere that has sunlight and good drainage. Bulbs like loamy and slightly sandyGroundcover soil. This kind of soil provides nutrients and good drainage.

Early bloomers can be planted underneath deciduous trees (that is, trees with leaves that fall in the fall!). Flowers will bloom before the new foliage on the tree has the opportunity to sprout. However, the bulb may not produce flowers in the subsequent spring if the tree canopy is very dense. The bulb needs sunlight to gather nutrients from its leaves and stems in order to fertilize the bulb for the next year’s blossom. Therefore, be careful where you plant them and be sure your canopy tree is light and airy.

Plan Out Your Area

Bulbs can be planted in many ways. They can be planted as a small grouping, a large grouping, under trees, scattered in lawns or scattered throughout your garden.

Be sure to think this out thoroughtly because they will be with you for many years to come. Here are some ways to plant your bulbs and things to consider when planning out your yard.

  • Plant in large groupings for a WOW factor.
  • Bulbs that have shorter leaves and stems should be in the front of your garden and conversely for taller plants. Arrange them from front to back according to size.
  • Consider the surrounding foliage and plant complementary colors and textures.
  • Remember to factor in bloom time. Plant early, mid and late spring blooms.

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How to Grow

Planting in One Layerplant Augar

You can either dig one hole at a time for each bulb using a bulb digger such as a plant bulb augar found at Amazon, or dig out a larger area and plant many bulbs at one time. Either way, if you do not have good fertile, well-drained soil, amend the soil with a good organic product, such as Espoma Company Organic Vegetable and Garden Soil sold at Amazon.

Place a little bulb fertilizer, such as Burpee Organic Bone Meal sold at Amazon, in the bottom of the hole or area. This will give the bulb an extra boost for the roots to take hold throughout the winter. Follow the instructions on the package.

Plant your bulb at its desired depth. If it is not specified on the package, a good rule of thumb is plant it 2 to 3 times as deep as the bulb is high. So, if your bulb is 2 inches, plant it between 4 and 6 inches deep. Face the pointy side up. If you can not determine which side is pointy, place it on its side. Nature will figure it out for you!

Cover your bulb or bulbs with soil and top it with 2 to 3 inches of mulch. Water it thoroughtly.

Lasagna Layering – A Form of Planting Bulbs

You can have a continuous spring bloom of flowers in the same spot by layering your bulbs as you plant them. This is similar to layering lasagna, hence the name! Select bulbs that bloom in early, mid and later spring.

In Containers

Select the depth of the container relative to how many layers you would like. For instance, 14 inch depth if you’d like 3 layers,Daffodils or 10 inches deep if you’d like 2 layers.

  1. After choosing the pot, line the bottom with gravel for drainage.
  2. Place 3 inches of good organic potting soil mixed with bulb fertilizer into the bottom.
  3. Add bulbs, such as tulips, that require a depth of 8 to 9 inches, about 1/2 inch apart. These will usually bloom in late spring. Remember to face the tips up.
  4. Add 2 to 3 more inches of good potting mix.
  5. Place the next layer of bulbs that require a shorter depth around 5 to 6 inches (usually mid spring bulbs such as earlier tulips and daffodils). Space them 1 and a 1/2 inches apart to allow for the bottom bulbs to grow through them.
  6. Add another 2 to 3 inches of soil.
  7. Place the early spring bulbs such as snowdrops and crocuses next. They only require a depth of about 2 to 3 inches. Remember tips up.
  8. Cover with 2 to 3 inches of soil.
  9. Water well to fill in any air pockets.
  10. Place a layer of mulch on top.

Below is a video of how to use the lasagna method.

In the Ground

Find a sunny area with good drainage. Dig down around 14 inches and amend with good organic soil and bulb fertilizer. Any size will work, even a 2 foot square or a 2 feet by 1 foot area will produce a beautiful display in the spring. Then follow the above directions.

IMPORTANT LAST MINUTE INSTRUCTION!

DO NOT cut back the leaves of the flowering plant in the spring until they have naturally faded and browned out. The dying leaves nourish the bulb with important nutrients in preparation for next year’s blossoms.

Those Nasty Critters!

Squirrels, chipmunks, and deer like certain kinds of bulbs and will dig them up during the late fall and winter months. Refer to my post, Keeping Critters Out of a Garden, for some suggestions as to how to control them.

You can also deter critters by adding layers of wire mesh between the layers in both the pots and the ground. Then cover the area with another layer of mesh to prevent them from digging out the bulbs.

Try scaring them away with a dog or cat!

Intersperse the favorite critter bulbs with those they do not like. Below are a few suggestions.

Remove the papery sheaths from tulip bulbs before planting them. They contain a scent which deer, squirrels, and chipmunks like.

While preparing the soil for planting, mix the soil with a 10% combination of a gritty material like gravel and/or stone dust. Critters do not like digging through scratchy soil.
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A Variety of bulbs Critters Do Not Like

Allium – Ornamental Onion   They grow from one foot to a few feet tall. They bloom late spring to early summer and come in purple and white.

Allium

Grape Hyacinths – Muscari    They are the little brother to hyacinths. They top out at only a few inches tall. They bloom in May and are either dark purple, blue or white.

Grape Hyacinths

Daffodils – Narcissus     These beauties appear in the early to late spring and range in height from 6 inches to 30 inches tall. They come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes.

Daffodils

Snowdrops – Galanthis nivalis     They appear in very early spring, sometimes when snow is still on the ground. Snowdrops are 6 to 8 inches tall and are all white.

Snowdrops

Siberian Squill – Scilla siberica   These grow from 5 to 8 inches and bloom in April. They can be used as a ground cover under treees and can be spread by seeds. Siberian Squills have a beautiful cobalt blue flower.

Siberian Squill

Spanish Bluebells – Hyacinthoides hispanica       These lovelies bloom in May or later and are 15 to 18 inches tall. They come in spikes of pink or blue shaped bells.

Spanish Bluebell

Three Types of Bulbs Critters Love

Deer, squirrels, and chipmunks like tulip bulbs, hyacinth bulbs, and some varieties of crocus, so plan your garden well. Use the above suggestions to deter these animals from feasting on what will be your gorgeous garden in the spring!

Learn more about the many varieites of tulips here, Everything About Tulips.

Tulips – Tulipa      Bloom mid to late summer and come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes.

Tulips

Hyacinths – Muscari       Hyacinths bloom mid to early spring and produce one stem 8 to 10 inches tall.

Hyacinths

Crocus           Crocus bloom late winter to early spring. They are generally 4 to 5 inches tall.
Crocus

What Flower Bulbs to Plant in the Fall

After reading this article I hope you have learned that there are a few precautions you should take when selecting bulbs for spring blooms. Follow the instructions above to almost guarantee a lovely showing in the spring.

Please leave a comment and some photos below. I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Gardening!

Nina

10 thoughts on “What Flower Bulbs to Plant in the Fall – Spring Beauty”

  1. Hi Nina,

    Thanks for showing us the tips to grow bulbs before springtime comes! I love the Augar drill kit that helps us dig out the places for bulbs which also saves tons of time if we plan to do it ourselves. As for the organic soil and bone meal fertilizer, I never thought I could buy these on Amazon, something new for me today.

    It’s nice to have tulips in the garden, so I better follow your instructions to do something to prevent them from critters. Good article, thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Matt

    1. Hi Matt. Thanks for the comment. Yes, you have to watch those critters! I have seen squirrels dig up and eat many bulbs, so you really have to be careful how you plant them.

      I’m glad you liked the article and hope you share it with others.

      Nina

  2. My girlfriend and I just bought a house, not too while ago and we were thinking of ways to arrange the garden. You have no idea how happy I am that I found this page since I’m blowing the roof of my imagination, looking upon all the garden ideas that you’re suggesting.

    I personally love the Spanish Bluebells as blue is mine and my girlfriend’s favorite color, but the only thing holding me back is the temperature in my area. I currently live in Spain, and as you may know, it gets pretty hot here, especially during peak summer.

    My question is – is the heat going to affect the Spanish Bluebells, or is it something that shouldn’t bother me?

    Gorjan

    1. I’m so glad you like my site. I hope it is helpful when beginning your garden. Actually Spanish bluebells are native to Spain, Portugal, and Northern Africa. They can be planted in full sun to partial shade, but avoid direct sunlight if your area is very hot. They are not real fussy with soil so they are fairly easy to grow. This plant multiplies not only by connecting underground roots with the bulbs, but by seeds. They can be invasive and take over an entire area, so be careful where you plant them. On a cautionary note, Spanish bluebells have a low toxicity rate and can cause mild stomach upsets to dogs and cats if eaten. Do not eat them as adults.

      Refer to this website (https://www.thespruce.com/spanish-bluebells-late-blooming-spring-bulb-2132115) for more information. You may have to copy and paste this site into your browser.

      Thanks for the comment!
      Nina

  3. The flowers are really beautiful! I’ve always had trouble to grow bulbs, but with your instructions I will try again and hopefully this time I will have more success. The lasagna layering looks like a good idea. Although I have planted seeds for ages and I am pretty good at growing trees and vegetables, the bulbs are something else. The process of the lasagna layering isn’t too challenging for a newbie?

    1. Thanks so much for the comment. Lasagna layering is not challenging at all for a newbie. I’m sure you’ll be successful if you follow the instructions and video. I love seeing early blossoms in the spring and planting bulbs are really easy to do. You’ll be very happy you planted them this fall!

      I’m glad you liked my post and please share it with someone. If you get a chance, let me know how you made out with your bulbs!

      Nina

  4. Hi Nina, thanks for this very informative post about planting bulbs now ready for next spring. I have often wondered how some gardens seem to have flowers all year round. Do you have any suggestions how I would go about growing flowers in my garden all year round?

    The video was very helpful and the flowers in the photos look beautiful.

    Thanks again for your helpful post and your recommendations on the tools to help with the planting.
    Frank

    1. It depends on your climate and what your planting zone is. Click the link, https://www.gardenershq.com/growing-regions.php, (Gardenershq.com) to determine what your growing zone is. Once that’s established, you can google native plants in your area and start from there.

      If you live in an area where you have prolonged freezing temperatures, look at the bark of the tree or plant. To add interest to your garden in harsh winter environments, add plants with unusual barks; different colors, peeling barks, smooth/rough barks. Incorporate them into your garden.

      You can also plant different grasses with tall plumes and do not cut them until the spring. This will add a flowing beauty to your garden.

      Include other shrubs/plants with berries that turn brilliant colors in the winter. Holly varieties are a good choice as well as winterberry, beautyberry, and crabapple trees.

      I hope those suggestions were helpful. If you need more advise, please do not hesitate to contact me.

      Thanks for the comment.
      Nina

  5. Thank you for an eye opening article. Most of us are doing lots of gardening during the corona virus pandemic of mostly being at home.
    I didn’t realize anything about insects having an impact on plants as I am new at this. Thank you.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. If you’re new at gardening, I hope you take the time and read more of my articles. They will explain where and how to begin gardening, and then where to go beyond that.

      Thanks for the comment,
      Nina

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