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Planting Fall bulbs

Updated: Nov 24, 2022

It can be hard to plant bulbs in the spring because it's starting to get cold, but nothing can be more rewarding in the spring than a gorgeous bundle of beautiful, fragrant blooms.

Bulbs are usually planted 5-7" deep or about three times their height. Digging a hole is the hardest part of this whole process. All bulbs love full sun which is 6-8 hours a day. The best part is that the bulb has everything it needs to grow a beautiful bloom!

TULIPS: There are two methods you can use. Since most specialty cut tulip bulbs are one time flowers, you can plant them very tightly together.

  1. Dig a hole big enough to fit your bulbs side by side like in an egg carton. Make it 6-8" deep so the frost doesn't push them out of the ground.

  2. Plant them next to each other with the pointy side up.


  4. Cover the bulbs with the soil. If you can, mulch bare ground to retain moisture and protect the soil.

  5. Remember DEER LOVE TULIPS. Plant them in a safe place--near the house, in a fenced area, or bend a cage over them.

DAFFODILS, HYACINTHS, PERENNIAL TULIPS: Plant these 5-7" deep also. The general rule is 3x deep as the bulb height. Since these come back each year, plant them about 4-6" apart from each other to leave room for growth of daughter bulbs. You may want to split these every few years if you notice that they aren't flowering as well. Daffodils and hyacinths are deer resistant!

HARVESTING: Spring cut flower are often cut much earlier than you think. Cut when the bud is tight, but showing color.

  • Single tulips may still have some green parts on the bud. Don't worry. They will open beautifully. Wait a little longer for double tulips to color up since there are more petals that need to develop inside the bud. Cut flower growers pull up the whole bulb and cut it off for the longest stem. If you have a perennial tulip, cut the stem only but leave the leaves on.

  • Daffodils are pulled when the stem looks like a goose neck. Bent down and colored up, but not open yet. Reach down to the base and pull to harvest. Note there is a sticky sap that may be irritating. Let them rest in water by themselves to release the sap and then use them in a mixed bouquet.

  • Hyacinths are cut when just a few florets are beginning to open. Cut flower growers pull up the whole bulb and trim it down. If you just cut a hyacinth, you can still use it in an arrangement but the bottom of the stem will split. It's your preference. You can also carefully dig up the bulb, rinse the roots, place the bottom half in water and bring it inside to let its fragrance fill your home.

RECHARGING THE BULB: If you have a bulb that can come back yearly, be sure to leave as much foliage as possible to regenerate the bulb. Let the foliage die back naturally and then you can trim it off.

VASE LIFE: When cut at the right stage and placed into water, you will be amazed at how long these blooms will last. You will thank yourself for the beauty, fragrance, and joy these flowers bring to you come spring.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear how it goes for you! Happy planting.


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