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Fall-Planted Bulb Questions

What types of bulbs should be planted in the fall?

Many bulbs that bloom in the spring are planted in the fall. Common fall-planted bulbs include tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus, allium and Dutch iris. You’ll find our complete selection in the Fall-Planted Bulbs page. 

When should I plant my fall bulbs?

The map here has recommended fall planting dates. Bulbs are generally forgiving and may be planted any time before the ground freezes. Once the bulbs begin to sprout, they should be planted as soon as possible. 

How should my bulbs be planted?

Bulbs usually look best when planted in groups of 3, 5, 7 or more. Informal, irregular clusters will have a more natural look than straight rows. The chart here has general instructions for planting depths. We also provide specific information about planting depth and spacing right on every plant page.

I live in a warm climate. Do I need to pre-cool my fall-planted bulbs?

Daffodils, Dutch iris and several other types of spring-blooming bulbs perform well in zones 8-10 without special care. Simply plant them in the fall and they will bloom the following spring. Other bulbs, such as tulips, hyacinths and crocus, will not bloom unless they go through a cooling period of at least 6 to 8 weeks. For more information, read Growing Bulbs in Zones 8-10 and How to Force Bulbs for Indoor Color.

What happens if we get a late snow or hard frost, once the bulbs have started to grow?

Don’t worry; bulbs can tolerate cold weather. Crocus and snowdrops will often bloom when there’s still snow on the ground. Even if the foliage is bent or crushed, the plants will usually bounce right back and there won’t be lasting damage.

General Bulb Questions

Should I use fertilizer when planting my bulbs?

Bulbs contain all the nutrients they need for their first year of bloom. If you want to encourage bulbs to naturalize or bloom a second year, fertilize them in the spring immediately after they bloom. Use an all-purpose, slow release fertilizer, following package directions. For more information, read our Garden Guide.

How do I know if I am purchasing quality bulbs?

A high quality bulb is large and firm, without signs of disease or decay. If you receive bulbs that are soft or diseased, please notify us immediately. Big bulbs produce stronger stems and larger or more abundant flowers. Longfield Gardens delivers big bulbs that will put on an impressive show in your garden. 

Do bulbs bloom every year?

Many bulbs, including daffodils, muscari, crocus and lilies, multiply and become more beautiful over time. Other bulbs put on their best show the first year and then begin to decline. How a bulb performs after the first year depends on the type of bulb and the growing conditions in your garden.

What types of soil are good for bulbs?

Bulbs are not fussy about where they’re planted. They will usually be equally happy in sandy, loamy or heavy soils. It’s important that the soil is well drained. In soggy soils, bulbs can rot and become be prone to disease. Plant your bulbs in a well-drained part of the yard. Installing drainage tiles, re-grading the area, or adding organic matter can improve wet areas. 

Which way do I plant my bulbs, pointy end up or down?

Not all bulbs have a pointy end, but for those that do, the pointy end should be on top. If you can’t determine which end is up, don’t worry too much. Once the bulb starts growing, the emerging plant can usually find its way to the sun.

Should I water my bulbs after planting?

Bulbs are usually dormant when planted. Moisture helps wake them up. Ideally, your bulbs should be planted into soil that is moist, but not soggy. In many parts of the country, the weather at planting time (spring or fall) is rainy, so supplemental watering is not necessary. If the soil is dry, apply about an inch of water, once each week, for the first several weeks. 

Do I need to dig my bulbs in the fall or can I leave them right in the ground? If I dig them up, how should I care for them?

Hardy, fall-planted bulbs, such as daffodils and crocus, can be left right in the ground. Most will return year after year, and any that don’t will simply decompose over time. In warmer growing zones, spring-planted bulbs such as dahlias and gladiolus, are hardy and may be left in the ground. Bulbs that are not hardy in your zone may be dug up and stored indoors, or can be left in the ground and treated as annuals (just plant new bulbs the next spring).

How do I keep deer away from my bulbs?

There are some bulbs that deer won’t eat, such as daffodils, alliums and chionodoxa. Other bulbs, including tulips and lilies, are very tasty to deer. If deer are a problem in your area, read Deer-Resistant Spring-Blooming Bulbs.

Spring-Planted Bulb Questions

What types of bulbs are planted in the spring?

Common spring-planted bulbs include Dahlia, Lily, Gladioli, Calla Lily, Begonia, Canna, Caladium and Elephant Ears. Once planted, these bulbs grow quickly and will be at their peak from mid-summer through early fall. To see all our summer-blooming bulbs, see our Spring-Planted Bulbs page

When should I plant my bulbs?

Plant your bulbs once the ground has thawed and the soil has begun to warm up. Wait until any danger of frost has passed. The map here has general recommendations for spring planting dates. In most cases, waiting a few extra weeks won’t make a big difference. In warm soil, the plants will catch up quickly.

How should my bulbs be planted?

Bulbs usually look best when planted in groups of 3, 5, 7 or more. Informal, irregular clusters will have a more natural look than straight rows. The chart here has general instructions for planting depths. We also provide specific information about spacing and planting depth on each plant’s offer page.

Are there any summer-blooming bulbs that will grow in a shady garden?

Begonias and Caladiums thrive in shade, and will perk up these low light areas with colorful flowers and foliage. To learn more about these and other shade loving plants, read Gardening in the Shade.

Perennials

When should I plant perennials?

Dormant, bare root perennials may be planted in either spring or fall. When your plants arrive, they should be settled into the garden as soon as possible. Prepare the planting area beforehand, loosening the soil to a depth of 12 inches. You may want to incorporate some aged compost, leaf mold, or other organic matter. Follow the planting instructions to properly position the plants. Water the area thoroughly after planting. If the weather is dry, water deeply, once each week for the first couple weeks.

I planted a peony last fall. Why hasn't it flowered yet?

Peonies are long-lived plants that will bloom for a generation or more. When newly planted, a peony usually needs two seasons of growth before it has enough energy to produce a flower.  Peonies are also fussy about how deep they are planted. The top of the root should be no more than 1½” below the soil surface. Though mulching around your peonies is generally a good idea, be careful that the mulch doesn’t gradually raise the soil level such that the root is too deep.  If planted too deeply, you’ll get lots of foliage but few flowers.