When Should You Plant Bulbs? – A Seasonal Guide

Written by: - Growing Expert
when should you plant bulbs seasonal guide

Want to add some flower bulbs to your garden but not sure of when you should be planting them? That all depends on the bulbs that you have – the best time of year for planting them will be determined by their flowering season. 

Plant Spring-Flowering Bulbs in the Autumn

Bulbs that flower in the spring are best planted in the autumn, ideally between September to November. Many spring bulbs will still do well if planted in the winter too, but try to do this before your ground freezes over. The aim is to give them enough time to produce roots before the weather turns too cold. Once they have good roots, they’ll be able to tolerate winter temperatures without any problems. The cold will also help to break their dormancy, which will give you bigger and brighter flowers the following year.

Examples of spring-flowering bulbs that are best planted in the autumn are: 

  • Daffodils
  • Tulips
  • Crocuses
  • Fritillaria
  • Hyacinths
  • Irises
  • Alliums

Plant Summer-Flowering Bulbs in Early Spring

Summer-flowering bulbs tend to be more tender and delicate than their spring-flowering counterparts. Because of this, you’ll need to wait until the worst of the winter weather is over and the threat of frost has passed before getting them in the ground. Plant them too soon and the cold could end up destroying them. 

Examples of summer-flowering bulbs that should be planted in early spring are: 

  • Gladioli
  • Cannas
  • Begonias
  • Dahlias
  • Elephant ears

Plant Autumn-Flowering Bulbs in the Summer

Although not as popular as spring and summer bulbs, there are plenty of autumn-flowering bulbs out there. These are best planted in late spring or during the summer. Try to have them all in the ground by late summer.

Examples of autumn-flowering bulbs that should be planted by late summer are:

  • Nerines
  • Crocosmias
  • Sternbergias 

How to Store Bulbs Until You’re Ready to Plant Them

If you’ve ended up buying bulbs at the wrong time of year (after all, who can resist a good bargain?!), then you’ll need to safely store your bulbs until you’re ready to get planting. 

Since bulbs are dormant, they’re usually happy to be kept in a cool, dark, well-ventilated, and dry environment – a garage or shed would be ideal. 

However, keep in mind that some varieties, such as snowdrops, tend to dry out very quickly. As a result, you’d be best off planting these as soon as you have them, no matter the time of year.

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