Avoid These Mistakes When Planting Bulbs in the Fall

Avoid These Mistakes When Planting Bulbs in the Fall

Photo: JulieK2 (Shutterstock)

It’s now September, which means that it’s time to start planting spring-flowering bulbs like daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips. If you’re new to gardening, it can take a while to get used to thinking so far in advance, but if you time it out right, you can ensure you have something blooming—or at least green—year-round.

In addition to timing, there are a number of other factors to keep in mind when planting bulbs in the fall. Here are a few common mistakes to avoid.

Avoid these mistakes when planting bulbs in the fall

Regardless of the season, planting bulbs involves more than simply covering them with dirt and calling it a day. Putting in a little extra time and effort to do things the right way can make a big difference in your garden.

Here are a few examples of mistakes to avoid when planting bulbs in the fall, courtesy of the Farmers’ Almanac:

Picking a spot with too much shade

The bulbs need at least six hours of sunlight every day. Don’t forget to take the shade from trees and their leaves into account for late-blooming flowers. However, early bloomers, like daffodils, should nearly be finished blooming by the time the trees get their leaves in the spring, so you have a bit more leeway.

Planting without prepping first

Before you start planting, pull any weeds—including the roots—that are currently growing in the spot. Add some sand for drainage, then plant the bulbs in compost or soil that’s rich in organic matter.

Not going deep enough

Plant a bulb with the pointy end facing up towards the sky, at a depth that’s three times the bulb’s length.

Fertilizing the bulbs immediately

You may be tempted to fertilize your bulbs right after you plant them, but don’t: They’ll remain dormant throughout the fall and winter—meaning they won’t be able to reap any of the benefits. Instead, hold off until you spot the first green shoots poking through in either the late winter or early spring. Those are a sign that the bulb’s roots are growing and can benefit from the nutrients in the fertilizer.

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