When to Plant Bulbs

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Don' t plant those bulbs yet. Just because they arrive in retail stores doesn't mean its time to plant them. Nurseries and retailers begin selling bulbs in late summer, several weeks before it is time to plant in your area. Although you should certainly purchase the bulbs while they are fresh, hold off on planting until the soil has cooled to provide them with the best start. The proper time for planting will vary according to your area and the bulbs you wish to grow, but a rule of thumb is to wait until the soil at a depth of 6 inches is 60 degrees.

Things You'll Need

  • Bulbs
  • Garden tools
  • Compost
  • Bulb Fertilizer
  • Blood meal
  • Bone meal
  • Greensand
  • Plan to plant your bulbs in September if you live in Zones 2 and 3; October in Zones 4 and 5; November in Zones 6 and 7; and December in Zone 8. If you live in Zone 9 you should purchase pre-chilled bulbs, otherwise it will be necessary to chill them in the refrigerator for 3 months.

  • Select an area that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight each day with loose well-drained soil. Till the soil to a depth of 8 inches and add well-rotted manure or compost to the existing soil. Mix this in well. If you have clay or sandy soil, you will need to amend it well to provide a rich friable soil for optimum growth.

  • Plant the bulbs with the pointed end up to a depth of 3 to 4 times the height of the bulb. If you miss the planting date for your area, you can still plant the bulbs, but plant them to a depth of 6 inches and mulch with several inches of hay or other mulch. Plant groupings in odd numbers of five or more for the best effect. Space large bulbs 6 inches apart and small bulbs 2 or 3 inches apart. Layer small and large bulbs in the same area by planting the larger bulb first and covering with soil. Plant the smaller bulb at the appropriate level and cover. Firm the soil with your hands.

  • Mulch and water thoroughly. Keep the soil evenly moist to encourage the growth of roots. Fertilize in the spring with a mixture of equal parts of bone meal, greensand, and blood meal. Apply to the topsoil around the bulbs and water well.

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