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John Fulton

John Fulton
Former County Extension Director

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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis

Planting Spring Flowering Bulbs

Posted by John Fulton -

Spring bulbs may be planted through October. Particularly for tulips, waiting a bit longer (some say after a frost and others say when soil temperatures are under 60 degrees) might be a good idea because of the aggressive growth pattern of tulips. They will try to grow right away if it is too warm, and then the green foliage will freeze off when it does turn cold. This phenomenon isn't usually a death notice, but it does take stored energy out of the bulb, resulting in a smaller plant the following spring.

When purchasing bulbs, the bigger the bulb the more expense, but the greater the flower bloom size. Daffodil bulbs sometimes have two bulbs together. Double bulbs may be pulled apart before planting. Spring flowering bulbs generally need well drained soil, and if planting under trees, they do best under deciduous trees. They will be rather short-lived under evergreens.

Large bulbs, such as tulips and daffodils, should be planted six to eight inches deep. Small bulbs are planted about four inches deep. The rule of thumb is to plant bulbs at a depth equal to two to three times the height of the bulb. Plant the bulb with the point up. It is a good idea to map the location, or place a colored golf tee above the bulb. Then mulch with three to four inches of mulch, and water thoroughly after planting. If you are planting a large bed, it is sometimes easier to actually remove the soil to your planting depth. Then place your bulbs and cover with the soil and mulch.

For more information on bulbs, check out the University of Illinois Extension website called Bulbs & More at Of course, an internet search for Bulbs and More will also lead you to the website!

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