Common Bulb Planting Questions

Flower bulbs have always had a mystical quality to them. Starting out rough and dirty, the passage of time transforms these common objects into uncommon displays of beauty. Since we get a lot of questions about bulbs, we thought we'd answer the most common ones here.

When do you plant them?

Fall is the best time to plant spring flowering bulbs. Here in Maine, that means between September and November. However, bulbs can be planted even if winter frost has appeared as long as the soil or compost is easily cultivated.

How do you plant them?

There are several different ways to plant flower bulbs, however, the most popular is to simply dig a shallow hole using a trowel. To create a more "natural" effect, gently scatter your bulbs over the desired planting area and let them land in whatever holes they "find".

How deep do you plant them?

This depends on the size of the bulb you're planting, but the general rule is to plant bulbs twice as deep as their height.

How far apart should they be spaced?

Smaller bulbs should be planted fairly close together at roughly four inches apart while larger bulbs should have approximately five inches separating them. To create a bolder splash of color, you can plant them even closer, to the point where your bulbs are almost touching.

What's the proper soil for planting flower bulbs?

Flower bulbs thrive in well-drained soil when left to grow and naturalize. They also prefer some organic material or compost mixed in with the planting soil. However, it's important to remember that before planting anything, you should always cultivate your garden soil. It not only makes planting much easier, it also helps the new roots of the bulbs get off to a good start. Bulbs can be planted in pots as well, as long as they contain free-draining soil or compost. If planted in a container, they won't need additional plant food during their initial growing season.

What after-care do bulbs need?

After your bulbs have been planted, water the soil well. If you live in an area subject to severe frosts, give them extra protection by covering them with straw, dead leaves, or compost.