Q&A: When Is It Too Late to Plant Bulbs?

If you miss the optimum planting time for spring-flowering bulbs, go ahead and plant them anyway.
0036934B3_gold-bloom_s4x3

0036934B3_gold-bloom_s4x3

Q: When is it too late to plant bulbs?

A: The best route to success with spring flower bulbs is to plant them at the optimum times. Ideally, bulbs should be planted at least six weeks before hard, ground-freezing frost can be expected in your area. The bulbs need time to root and establish themselves. On the other hand, planting bulbs too early can lead to fungus or disease problems. A good rule of thumb is to plant bulbs when the average nighttime temperatures in your area are in the 40- to 50-degree range. At that point the soil temperature should be just perfect for tucking bulbs in for their winter's rest underground. In colder northern climates, plant in September or October. In warmer climates you may need to plant bulbs in December (or even later).

Combining Plants: Spring 04:11

Here are basics of planting bulbs and combining plants for a spring garden.

If you miss planting your bulbs at the optimal time, don't wait for spring or next fall. Bulbs aren't like seeds. They won't survive out of the ground indefinitely. Even if you find an unplanted sack of tulips or daffodils in January or February, plant them and take your chances. No matter what, they're better off giving it a fighting chance in the ground or a chilled pot than wasting away in the garage or cupboard. Flower bulbs are survivors by nature's design. Every year stories abound of bulbs that bloom after being planted under the most improbable circumstances.

— The Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center

Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Plant in Gardening Containers

To ensure that plants in gardening containers grow and perform as well as possible, you need to plant them properly.

When to Plant Garden Mums

Want your garden mums to survive winter? Learn tips for planting fall garden mums to help them return next spring.

Garden Plants and Flowers

Learn how to discover which plants underscore and help define a specific garden design style.

Choosing Plants for a Sensory Garden

A specially planted sensory garden heightens the experience of all of the senses, rather than concentrating primarily on sight.

How to Plant a Cactus Container Garden

Yee-haw! Turn a container into a desert landscape by filling it with prickly cacti and other succulent plants. 

How to Plant a Cactus Container Garden

Yee-haw! Turn a container into a desert landscape by filling it with prickly cacti and other succulent plants.

How to Plant an Herb Container Garden

Herbs have been grown all over the world for centuries for their flavor and healthful benefits. Learn how to plant an herb container garden.

How to Plant a Kitchen Herb Garden

Have some extra space in your yard or garden? Plant a fresh and simple herb garden only steps away from the kitchen.

How to Plant Bulbs

Learn to plant bulbs in your garden with this step-by-step guide.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.