Plant a Bed of Spring Bulbs

Harbingers of spring, bulbs transform sleeping gardens into oceans of color as the seasons turn.
Colorful Spring Flowers

Colorful Spring Flowers

Tulips, daffodils, and grape hyacinths grow alongside each other in this colorful spring garden. Harbingers of spring, bulbs transform sleeping gardens into oceans of color as the seasons turn.

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Related To:

When to Start: Mid autumn
At Its Best: Early to late spring
Time to Complete: 30 minutes for planting

Materials Needed:

  • fork
  • spade
  • bulb planter or trowel
  • chicken wire
  • selection of spring bulbs

Prepare to Plant

All bulbs need well-drained soil, so if you have heavy clay, either dig in plenty of organic matter before you start or grow them in pots. You can either plant bulbs individually, using a bulb planter or trowel, or dig a wide hole and plant them en masse, which is an easier method and more naturalistic.

Prepare Soil For Planting Bulbs

Prepare Soil For Planting Bulbs

All bulbs need well-drained soil, so if you have heavy clay, either dig in plenty of organic matter before you start or grow them in pots. You can either plant bulbs individually, using a bulb planter or trowel, or dig a wide hole and plant them together, which is an easier method and more naturalistic.

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Dig a Hole

Dig to a depth of about 2–4 times the height of your bulbs. Place the bulbs in the hole with the pointed growing tip facing upward. Discard any that are moldy or soft.

Dig a Hole and Plant Bulbs

Dig a Hole and Plant Bulbs

Dig to a depth of about 2–4 times the height of your bulbs. Place the bulbs in the hole with the pointed growing tip facing upward. Discard any that are moldy or soft.

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Cover Bulbs

Fill in the hole with soil, taking care not to damage the growing tips, and firm it down with your fingers. Cover with chicken wire to prevent animals from digging up the bulbs; remove it when the first shoots appear.

Cover Soil with Chicken Wire

Cover Soil with Chicken Wire

Fill in the hole with soil, taking care not to damage the growing tips, and firm it down with your fingers. Cover with chicken wire to prevent animals from digging up the bulbs; remove it when the first shoots appear.

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Planting Snowdrops

Snowdrops have tiny bulbs that dehydrate quickly and often fail to flower if planted in fall. Instead, buy pot-grown bulbs in leaf in the spring and plant them so that the pale bases of the stems are just below the soil surface. If you already have large clumps of snowdrops, lift and divide them in spring, after flowering.

Planting Snowdrops

Planting Snowdrops

Snowdrops have tiny bulbs that dehydrate quickly and often fail to flower if planted in fall. Instead, buy pot-grown bulbs in leaf in the spring and plant them so that the pale bases of the stems are just below the soil surface. If you already have large clumps of snowdrops, lift and divide them in spring, after flowering.

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Plant Depth

For bulbs to succeed, you need to plant them at the right depth, usually two to four times the height of the bulb. Plant too shallowly, and they may not flower; too deep, and they might not grow at all.

Tulips (image 1) prefer to be planted deeply, four times their own depth; a 2" bulb is planted 8 inches deep. Daffodils (image 2) are planted three times their own depth; a 2" bulb is planted 6 inches deep. Plant grape hyacinths (image 3) at three times their depth; a 3/4" bulb is planted at a depth of 2-1/2 inches. Alliums (image 4) are also planted at three times their depth; a 1-1/4" bulb should be planted 3-1/2 inches deep.

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