How to Plant Bulbs

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

Choose Healthy Bulbs to Force Bloom

Choose Healthy Bulbs to Force Bloom

Healthy bulbs should be plump, firm, and unblemished, so before buying, inspect them carefully. Reject moldy, bruised, or shriveled bulbs.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Materials Needed

  • bulbs
  • garden pots (if using)
  • shovel
  • grit or well-rotted manure
  • garden fork
  • granular fertilizer
  • chicken wire
  • pins or rocks
  • plant markers (optional)

Step 1: Choose bulbs and select a site with free-draining soil

Dig in Sand or Pea Gravel

Dig in Sand or Pea Gravel

Add organic matter, plus either sand or pea gravel, and then dig it in very well into the top six to eight inches of soil. Use either a shovel or a tiller to mix everything together.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

If you have heavy clay, either dig in plenty of grit and well-rotted manure a month or so before you start, or plant your bulbs in pots.

Step 2: Dig a hole the depth of 3 to 4 times the height of bulbs

Dig Hole to Depth of 4 Times Size of Bulb

Dig Hole to Depth of 4 Times Size of Bulb

Prepare the planting bed by digging the soil so it is loose and workable. Add organic matter such as compost or peat moss, if soil needs to be enriched. Dig holes 3 or 4 times the depth of the bulb being planted.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Make sure the hole is large enough to accommodate them at the correct planting distances. Lightly fork over the bottom.

Step 3: Apply granular fertilizer to soil in the hole

Set Out Bulbs with Pointed Growing Tip Up

Set Out Bulbs with Pointed Growing Tip Up

Place the bulbs firmly into position with the pointed side facing up and follow the package instructions for spacing.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Then set out the bulbs with the pointed growing tips facing upward. Discard any that are soft or show signs of disease.

Step 4: Fill in the hole with soil

Cover Bulb with Soil and Firm Removing Air Pockets

Cover Bulb with Soil and Firm Removing Air Pockets

Place the bulbs firmly into position with the pointed side facing up and follow the package instructions for spacing. Cover the bulbs with soil and firm to remove air pockets around bulbs.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Be careful not to damage the growing tips. Firm the soil down with your hands to push out any air pockets around the bulbs.

Step 5: Cover the area with chicken wire held down with pins or rocks

Cover Area with Chicken Wire to Discourage Pests

Cover Area with Chicken Wire to Discourage Pests

Use chicken wire over newly planted bulbs to prevent animals from digging them up. Remove the wire when the first shoots appear in spring.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

This will prevent animals from digging up the bulbs. You might also want to mark the area where you have planted your bulbs to so you won't dig them up later by mistake. Remove the wire when the first shoots appear in the early spring. 

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