Bulbs Are Worth the Wait

Published by Heather Fesmire in Bucks Country GardensLawn & GardenPlants

Plant Now for Spring Blooms

Daffodils, Crocus and Tulips oh my!! Don’t miss out on these great bloomers next spring – plant bulbs now for the best spring display yet.

Bloomed Tulip Bulbs

Tulips at full bloom in the spring.

This fall, spring blooming bulbs need to be planted before the first hard frost. Bulbs such as Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths, Allium and Fritillaria are planted in the fall. They require a cold period in order to form roots and buds for a spring bloom. It is best to wait until the temperature during the day no longer reaches 65 degrees before planting.

The general rule of thumb for planting spring bulbs is to plant them two to three times as deep as the bulb is tall. The packaging will have specific instructions similar to the diagram below. The planting depth is measured from the bottom of the bulb. When planting, we suggest a light application of Espoma Blub Tone fertilizer or bone meal to help improve performance.

Netherland Bulbs Guide

Netherland Bulb Company Bulb Guide.

Soil pH for Bulbs

The most important element for bulb success is the pH level of the soil. Bulbs do best in soil with a pH between 6 and 7. Purchase a pH meter to check the soil or bring in a sample (3 to 4 cups) of moist soil to Bucks Country Gardens and we will check the pH. We can also make recommendations to bring the pH into a better range for bulbs if necessary.

Planting Bulbs

“Drat! It’s December and I haven’t planted my bulbs!”

Do not worry. Just remember bulbs are dormant, but are very much a living thing. Before proceeding with planting, be sure that bulbs are still firm and in good condition – not soft, rotted or growing fungus. If they are still in good condition, then wait for a break in the cold weather and plant them a little deeper than normal. If that break in the weather does not happen, plant the bulbs in pots and keep them in a cool (not freezing) dark place and water sparingly throughout the winter.

Do not allow the bulbs to completely dry out. Then when the ground thaws in the spring, place the pots in the ground or on your patio to enjoy the show. If it is suddenly February when you find forgotten bulbs and they are still firm, plant them! They will not have as many flowers as they would with a period of cool weather, but with a feeding of bulb fertilizer they will perform better in the following spring.

Bulb~tone for Bulbs

Use Bulbtone to improve bulb growth!

Where to Plant Bulbs

Bulbs generally do best in a full sun location. Trees are not leafed out yet when most bulbs bloom. They are happy mixed into perennial beds where they are the first to emerge in the spring. Some bulbs such as Anemone, Snow Drops and Crocus are beautiful planted in the lawn providing a sprinkling of color in the fresh green grass. Plant them in an area where you can allow the foliage to die down before mowing.

For a spring surprise, plant bulbs such as Daffodils in your outdoor containers beneath in your winter greens displays, around Thanksgiving. In the spring plant a few pansies, add a few twigs of curly willow and allow the bulbs to grow up among them. Beautiful!

Planting spring bulbs under a container garden.


A beautiful Bucks Country Gardens’ winter container garden.

Once the show is over and all the blooms are spent, cut off any seed heads that may form. Make sure to keep the foliage! The leaves need to be allowed to yellow and die down naturally. Once they have fully died down, you can remove them. The foliage should come up easily as the bulbs have now gone dormant. It is important to allow the bulbs to rest as they are gathering nutrients from the soil and preparing to bloom again next spring.

Protecting Bulbs

Now, the million dollar question….”What can I do to prevent deer, rabbits and other animals from eating my bulbs and flowers?”

Deer Love Bulbs

Deer love to eat your garden. Protect it!

To help protect your plants you can spray them with repellant formulas or hang soap out. Deer Scram granular lasts 30-45 days! Make sure to re-apply once the spray is spent. Here is a list of bulbs that these critters don’t like to eat:

Daffodils, Narcissus, Hyacinths, Allium (all types), Fritillaria, Fall Flowering Crocus, Iris (all types), Anemones (all types), Scilla (all types), Snowdrops, Eranthus, Chinadoxa, Muscari Grape Hyacinths.

Lastly, if you are reading this with a spent spring planter yellowing on your table…. Get those bulbs in the garden! Most spring bulbs are resilient and come back the next spring even after being forced to bloom before their regular season. Keep them inside for a little while until temperatures outside warm up a bit. Remember these plants were grown in a warm greenhouse! Give them a little fertilizer so they can build themselves up again, such as Espoma Bulbtone and you will be pleasantly surprised when they come up again for you next spring.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about bulbs, planting, and more, don’t hesitate to ask our Garden Center experts. We’d be happy to assist you. Happy Planting!

Written by:

Ann Buckwalter | Greenhouse Assistant & Nursery Sales