How to Plant a Bulb Outdoors

  • Use more bulbs than you think you need – this is not an attempt to increase your purchase, but a true landscapers’ tip. The best visual effect comes from a grouping of bulbs.
  • The bulbs you purchase are in a dormant state – if you leave them unplanted they can sprout during a period of warmth. To prevent this, store them at cool temperatures (65-70°) until planting. (If you use a refrigerator take care to keep bulbs separate from fruit – fruit emits a gas that can destroy bulbs.)
  • Check the plant height on the package – plant low-growing bulbs in front of taller ones. Think about the color when selecting your bulbs.
  • Contrasting colors create bold displays (i.e., pink and purple, or red and yellow) whereas variants of a similar hue will result in refined, soothing plantings. The liberal use of white is another trick often used by professionals to add brightness and visually tie together the garden.

Seasonal Tips

  • For zones 1-4 or in any particularly cold climate, gardeners should consider covering their planting with a layer of leaves or a protective layer of 4″ of mulch.
  • Southern gardeners in zones 8-10 may need to trick their bulbs or “precool” them prior to planting. Bulbs need a cold period of about 3-4 months in order to develop properly. The bulbs should be stored at about 40-45° for a period to 8-10 weeks, depending upon the upcoming cold period.