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The growing season is winding to a close - autumn has arrived. Even though the tree’s leaves are changing colors and the days are growing shorter, it’s still a great time to plant fall bulbs. 

Tulips, crocus, daffodils, scilla, snowdrops, hyacinths, and grape hyacinths are just a few bulbs that you should plant in the autumn for spring flowers. They are easy to grow and ideal for beginners. 

Planting fall bulbs is a necessity because the bulbs require a cooling period before they bloom in the spring. The wintry weather sparks a unique biochemical reaction in the bulbs that causes them to flower. It is especially important to plant fall bulbs before the ground freezes. 

When to Plant Fall Bulbs

If you live in a USDA zone 1 to 7 then you should plant fall bulbs as soon as the ground starts to cool. Ideally, the evening temperature should dip to 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit which causes the ground temperature to cool. 

Try to plant fall bulbs at least six to eight weeks before the ground completely freezes. If the ground does freeze and you can still dig and work in the soil, then it’s not too late to plant. You can still quickly get the bulbs into the ground. 

In areas with warm winter such as USDA zones 8 to 11, planting fall bulbs becomes more difficult. To ensure that the bulbs bloom in the spring, they must undergo cold stratification. You should leave the bulbs in the refrigerator to effectively cool them. However, do not store the bulbs near fruit because ripening fruit gives off a gas known as ethylene which can easily kill the flowering bulb. After you have chilled the bulbs, you can then plant them late in the winter season for spring blooming. 

Purchasing Fall Bulbs

You might hesitate to buy fall bulbs early in the season because you worry about storing them until planting time. However, you can easily store the bulbs for a month or more if you keep them in a cool and dry location. 

Below is a general overview of how long to chill each type of fall bulb to ensure spring blooms.

  • Hyacinth: 11 to 14 weeks
  • Grape hyacinth, tulips, crocus, scillia: 12 to 15 weeks
  • Daffodils and Iris: 15 weeks 

Choosing a Planting Locations

  • Avoid planting bulbs in an area that causes wet feet which can easily rot the bulb. Choose a location with full to partial sunlight for best bloom results
  • Dig the soil until is loosened to a depth of 8 inches
  • Remove any rocks, weeds, or debris
  • Add organic matter such as peat moss to the soil
  • Mix in a slow-release fertilizer, organic matter, or compost
  • Plant bit bulges at a depth of 8 inches and small bulbs at a depth of 5 inches
  • Lightly compress the soil over the surface of the bulb
  • Water lightly to stimulate growth but do not water during the winter months unless you live in an area with extraordinarily little precipitation. 

Planting bulbs in the fall are a wonderful way to start anticipating the coming spring! Contact Humboldts Secret Supplies to start stocking up on nutrients for spring!