Answers to 5 Common Bulb Planting Questions

Fine Gardening - Issue 190
Planting in pots. Photo: courtesy of Irvin Etienne

Storing, planting, and caring for bulbs can be a bit tricky. We have answered some of the most common questions about planting bulbs so that you can ensure a spectacular show in spring. Learn more about planting bulbs and which bulbs to plant in Extraordinary Spring Bulbs to Plant in Fall.


Common Questions about Planting Bulbs


1. What happens if I plant bulbs too shallow?

Shallow planting means that a bulb’s roots may not be strong enough to support its top growth, flower included. The bulb is also more likely to be damaged by cold or heat.

Planting depth. Photo: Michelle Gervais

2. Do all bulbs prefer dry soil in summer (when they are dormant)?

Many do, but not all. Snowflake and narcissus, for example, are more tolerant of soil moisture than others, as is Fritillaria meleagris (Zones 4–8), a cousin of crown imperial.

3. When can I actually cut the dead/dying foliage?

While spent flowers can be removed anytime, it’s important to leave bulb foliage uncut until it all begins to yellow and die back. This guarantees that the bulb is recharged for next year’s bloom and that it can settle in for nap time until then.

Dying foliage. Photo: Danielle Sherry

4. Do I need to feed all my bulbs?

Bulbs benefit from feeding before and after bloom, but in general, those that naturalize (such as tassel hyacinth and summer snowflake) make carefree additions to the garden and don’t need feeding.

5. I forgot about the bulbs in my basement. Can I plant them in spring?

Most fall-planted bulbs need a period of cold to bloom and grow in spring. Pot up the ones you forgot to get into the ground before it froze, and keep them someplace chilly but frost free. Set the pot outside once they begin to grow.


See some amazing bulb varieties and tips for planting

Extraordinary Spring Bulbs to Plant for Fall

Growing Beautiful Bulbs Collection

Naturalizing Spring Bulbs

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  1. User avater
    AnnaMartinez 09/30/2019

    Good technique!

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