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How To Plant Spring and Summer Bulbs Successfully

Carefully chosen and planted spring bulbs like tulips, daffodils, amaryllis, and iris supply your garden with a brilliant and welcome display of color year after year. Bulbs can be divided into several different categories depending on when they bloom. There are spring bulbs, summer bloomers, and even bulbs that bloom in the fall. Probably the most popular and common bulbs are those that are planted in the fall to bloom in the spring. Bulbs can be planted in the fall right up until the weather turns cold and the ground freezes. One thing that all bulbs require is soil with good drainage.

Soil preparation

  1. If  your soil has any clay content, you can improve it with the addition of soil amendments like compost, peat moss, sand, and other organic materials.
  2. You should add the amendments to the soil and work it into the top 12 – 18″ thoroughly with a spade or a tiller.
  3. Phosphorous encourages good bulb root development as does bonemeal. These products can be added at the same time as other soil amendments. 
  4. You can also add an amount of bloodmeal to increase the amount of nitrogen in the soil which spurs flower and foliage development. Be careful here, though, because too much nitrogen can harm the plant and achieve the opposite desired effect.
  5. Soil for bulbs should be an almost neutral ph. You can add lime to change the ph level.

Plant the bulbs 

Bulbs planted in the fall bring forth a carpet of beautiful color in the spring.

Bulbs planted in the fall bring forth a carpet of beautiful color in the spring.


  1. Plant the bulbs by hand.
  2. Place them in the ground 2 – 3 times as deep as the bulb is tall. 
  3. Put the bulbs in the ground nose up.
  4. Firm the soil around and over the bulb.
  5. Water the bulbs well. Remember that the bulbs are 6 – 8″ deep so water the bulbs thoroughly.

Add fertilizers

  1. You should apply approximately 5 tablespoons of a good quality 10-10-10 fertilizer mixed with water and about 2 cups of bonemeal to every 10 square feet of bulb plantings.
  2. Do not fertilize the bulbs after the plants come up and begin to flower.


Wait until the plant foliage dies to mow or trim it back.

Stake the taller bulb plants to support the flowering growth. You can install stakes at the time of planting to keep from damaging the bulbs afterwards.

Some bulbs benefit from being dug up and divided. Store your bulbs in a dry, cool, climate at an even 60 -65 degrees temperature, if possible. Crawlspaces, root cellars, basements, and pumphouses work great for bulb storage.

Discourage pests like squirrels and chipmunks from eating your bulbs by frequent applications of bloodmeal, cayenne pepper, products containing capsaicin, or cage the bulbs during planting. You can also plant daffodils, which squirrels hate, in amongst the other bulbs.

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