We still have plenty of summer left here in the Champlain Valley, but before you know it, the ground will have cooled enough for us to start thinking about planting bulbs for next spring. So while you're contemplating your favorite cool-weather sweaters and favorite hearty winter soups, here are some tips for getting your bulbs in the ground for next spring!
When Should You Plant Your Fall Bulbs?
In our local area (USDA planting zone 4), it's best to wait until the ground has cooled off and the average evening temperature is between 40 and 50 degrees F. Generally speaking, that's about 6-8 weeks before the ground freezes solid. At these temperatures, you can prepare the soil and then plant your bulbs for spring.
How to Plant Your Fall Bulbs
Planting fall bulbs is actually easier than you might think, which is why they're so great for beginners. But even master gardeners love these flowers for their beauty and color!
1. Choose well-drained soil and a sunny spot. There's a saying: "Bulbs don't like wet feet", so make sure that wherever you decide to plant your bulbs, there is an abundance of well-drained soil. While full sun isn't always necessary, most garden spots will be sunny when these bulbs start to sprout because they come up earlier than the leaves on the trees.
2. Organize your bulbs by color, if you'd like. Keep the labels on your bulbs until the last minute so you can organize your bulb garden by color.
3. Prepare and plant. If this is a new spot for your bulbs, make sure the soil is workable and relatively loose, and make sure you remove weeds, rocks, and roots. The soil should be workable about 8" deep, and it can't hurt to work in a little compost or other organic matter of choice before planting.
When you do plant your bulbs, plant smaller bulbs at a depth of about 5" and larger bulbs at a depth of about 8". If you can't tell the top from the bottom of your bulb, a neat trick is to plant it lying on its side: the flowers will usually find their way topside!
Once the bulbs are planted and you've lightly tamped down the soil over them, water them. And that's it! Now you have set up a lovely garden full of springtime bulbs just waiting to bloom after the long winter!
Our bulbs will be arriving this fall, but order now to make sure you get first pick for your fall planting needs.