Plant Flower Bulbs Now Before the First Frost

Renee Valdes
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Plant fall bulbs for beautiful and bold tulips ll The Home Depot Garden Club

Now is the best time to plant fall flower bulbs for bold color in your garden in spring. For smaller spaces, consider planting flower bulbs in containers where they can be clustered together for an eye-popping display.

Flower bulbs are incredibly easy to grow and most will flower for years with little attention. Planting fall bulbs is like giving yourself a present that you can’t open until spring. When flower bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and peonies begin to bloom between March and May, you’ll see it was worth the wait.

Plant lots of the same types or colors of flower bulbs, or go crazy and mix things up with a rainbow of colors for a fun, spring flower garden. 

 

Plant a variety of flower bulbs in fall for spring blooms ll The Home Depot Garden Club

When you plant flower bulbs in the fall they have a chance to set roots in warmer soil before frost sets in and the ground freezes. See our tips below for more.

Because flower bulbs grow easily in well-drained soil, you can plant them most anywhere in sun to part-shade.  

 

Plant crocus bulbs in fall for early spring flowers ll The Home Depot Garden Club

When selecting flowering bulbs (such as crocus pictured above), pick those that feel firm, not dry or spongy in the package. Avoid any with signs of mold. 

Buy bulbs that bloom early, mid- and late spring to increase total bloom time. Buy more than you think you need for maximum impact. Place bulbs in a cool location until it’s time to plant.

 

Peonies in the garden ll The Home Depot Garden Club

Daffodils, muscari, snowdrops, crocus and peonies (sold as bare root tubers), come back year after year.

Like tulips, you’ll want to grow daffodils by the dozen because they’re strong and reliable. Read our story about planting daffodils in fall for a sunny spring garden.  

Hyacinth, with its glossy leaves and colorful, bell-shaped flowers, bring a fragrant perfume in your garden. 

 

Flower Bulbs in Containers | The Home Depot's Garden Club

How to Plant Flower Bulbs:

  • Pick the best location. Most spring-flowering bulbs need full sun in colder climates, and light shade in hotter areas. Under trees, in a lawn or a perennial bed – someplace where they won’t be accidentally dug up – is best. Try layering bulbs in containers, too. These work well on a balcony or front steps, deck or porch.
  • Plant with ease. Using a bulb planter or spade, dig down and plant your flower bulbs in well-drained soil to the depth indicated on the package. 
  • Fertilize after planting. Sprinkle a little bulb fertilizer in each hole before placing your flower bulbs inside.
  • Water thoroughly. After planting your flower bulbs, make sure to water with a hose or watering can.
  • Mulch for warmth. In colder areas, mulch the flower bulbs with a layer of protection such as with bark mulch, straw or shredded leaves one month after planting.

Read more on planting flower bulbs in this guide.

Plant bulbs in fall for showy spring flowers ll The Home Depot Garden Club

Tips for planting Fall flower bulbs:

  • Dig down before a freeze. In colder climates, plant bulbs in fall six to eight weeks before the ground freezes.
  • Give bulbs a chill. In warmer climates, flower bulbs need to chill out in a refrigerator for six to ten weeks before planting. Just keep bulbs away from ripening fruit such as apples. 
  • Avoid early sprouting. Avoid planting bulbs when temperatures are too warm because it could cause fall planted flower bulbs to sprout before spring.
  • Protect tulips. Tulips are deer candy so plant them close to the house for protection. Deer repellent can help protect bulbs.
  • Group bulbs. For the most natural look, group bulbs in a pyramid, rectangle or circular shape.

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