Planting Bulbs

By: C. Colston Burrell
Each type of bulb requires a different planting depth. See more pictures of bulb gardens.

Bulbs serve a unique purpose. Plant bulbs in your garden and you can extend the seasons a bit -- enjoying the colorful blooms of bulbs when other plants are dormant.

Plant bulbs as soon as you receive them, usually in early fall in the case of hardy bulbs and late spring for tender ones. Lilies (hardy bulbs), however, can be planted in either spring or fall. If you can't plant the bulbs immediately, store them in a cool, dry place.


Prepare a planting hole a few inches deeper than the recommended planting depth shown on the planting chart. Mix compost, well-rotted manure, or peat moss into the soil removed. Add a slow acting organic fertilizer to the bottom of the hole; then add enough soil to bring the hole to the proper planting depth. For a maximum effect, space bulbs only a few inches apart. Fill in the planting hole and water thoroughly.

Naturalizing Bulbs

One particularly successful type of naturalized planting is the woodland garden. Most spring bulbs will thrive in areas dominated by deciduous trees, since the trees allow plenty of light in the spring when the bulbs are in leaf.

Meadow gardens, composed of bulbs intermingling with grasses that are allowed to grow to their full height, are also attractive. Meadow gardens need to be sheared once a year in fall or early spring to prevent trees and shrubs from taking over.


Bulbs can also be naturalized directly into lawns. Just lift up the sod, drop in a few bulbs, pat down, and water. Early spring bulbs, such as snowdrops, crocuses, and glory-of-the-snows, are ideal choices here since they have grasslike leaves and don't mind being mowed.

Want more information about bulb gardens? Visit these links: