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Fall Bulb Planting Tips

Bulbs are an excellent choice for public gardens, parks, golf courses, municipalities, and any landscape design. Use the following tips from our nursery experts to ensure your bulbs have the best chance at an impressive spring.

December 7, 2022

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Fall Bulb Planting Tips


Spring flowering bulbs provide vibrant colors in the early spring when hardly any other plants are blooming. Spring flowering bulbs must be planted in the fall to develop a good root system and to satisfy the bulb’s cold requirement for blooming. In general, it’s best to plant when the soil temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but before the first frost. Use the following tips from our nursery experts to ensure your bulbs have the best chance at an impressive spring.


Bulbs should be firm, not mushy or soft, that signals a dead or bad bulb. Occasionally mold may form on the outer skin but can easily be brushed off and causes no harm to the bulb.

Tulips, unlike other fall planting bulbs, are not native to American gardens, and will not return the following year. Customers who deal with deer and rabbits can use deer resistant varieties like scilla, daffodils, and allium to help curb destruction in their garden. 


    Good soil preparation is the key to planting bulbs. Generally, larger bulbs are planted about 8” deep, and 5” deep for the smaller varieties.  The rule of thumb is that the depth of the bulb should be 3X the diameter. Bulbs prefer good draining soil, and do not like wet feet, so areas that collect heavy water are not ideal.

    Place large bulbs with the nose facing upwards in the planting hole. Small bulbs can be scattered. The distance between the bulbs depends on the visual effect you are looking for.  If using containers, bulbs may be planted in layers based on size. Always place the bulb with the pointed side up, cover with soil, water, and let the winter rains and snow take care of watering until spring. Plant bulbs in clumps, or stagger to create larger washes of color. Paying attention to bloom times when planting can help fill in spent blooms in the garden and create a show of color that lasts all spring.

    • Planters and Pots: Plant bulbs in layers to prolong the flowering period. Bulbs that flower early can be planted on top of the later flowering bulbs.
    • Lawns and Grass Strips: Daffodils, Crocus, and Scilla Siberica are very suitable for planting under grass. The earliest flowering bulb types are the best choice.
    • Mass Plantings in Beds and Borders: Add spring flowering bulbs to perennial and rose borders for a burst of color in early spring.
    • Naturalizing Bulbs: Daffodils, Crocus, Muscari, Scilla, and most other small bulbs are perennial and can be left in the soil to return for many years.


    Proper knowledge of the zone where bulbs are to be planted will help minimize failures when spring arrives. Familiarize your customers with the zones their properties occupy and read bulb labels to help ensure you’re planting at the right time.

    Within colder regions (zones 1 through 4 or a mountainous region) use additional mulch to protect against severe freezing temperatures (20 degrees below zero).  Remember, however, heavy mulching will need to be removed in spring to ensure the flower can bloom properly.


    Bulbs need to be kept in a cool and dry location with good circulation and low humidity prior to planting. The warmer temperatures and healthy rains in spring activate bulbs, so storing in areas that have higher moisture and heat will trigger a bulb to grow. Bulbs with sprouts can still be planted, but the sprout should not be removed, or the plant will not grow.


    After a bulb has bloomed and faded, do not cut down the leaves and stalk. Let the plant die back naturally and brown out over the course of late spring and early summer.  Once brown, remove the spent leaves. Some bulbs, after time, will need to be dug up and divided, to ensure continued flowering.

    Bulbs are an excellent choice for public gardens, parks, golf courses, municipalities, and any landscape design. SiteOne  offers a selection of the strongest varieties and top size bulbs; ask an associate for details about the available varieties and our bulk and seasonal pricing programs.

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