Fall Bulbs Planting Guide

green living

The weather is cooling off big time in Eastern Iowa and it's about time to start planting bulbs for beautiful spring flowers like tulips, crocus, daffodils, and iris, as well as for garlic in the summer.

Fall Bulbs Planting Guide

Fall Bulbs Planting Guide

Planting bulbs is a pretty easy task - but you've got to get it done before it gets too cold and the ground freezes or you'll have to wait until next year. So read on for your Fall Bulbs Planting Guide!

Where to find bulbs

Head out to your local hardware store to find bulbs for spring flowers, or order seed garlic bulbs from many of the catalogs listed on this list of 11 Free Catalogs for the Organic Gardener. Flower bulbs are for sale everywhere at this time of year - even Walmart and Aldi! Just make sure to buy from a reputable seller as poor quality bulbs make poor quality flowers.

How to plant flower bulbs

Fall Bulbs Planting Guide - how to plant flowering bulbs

October is normally the ideal time to plant spring flowering bulbs in my area of Eastern Iowa as cooler soil temperatures will discourage the bulbs from growing too soon. We've had really cool weather this summer, though, and while I normally wait until mid October or even the beginning of November to plant bulbs, I'm planting my bulbs earlier this year to make sure I get them in the ground before we get a hard frost.

It's good to plant bulbs quickly after your purchase them (within a week), or store them in the fridge. Since I'm planting in the next couple of weeks, I'm keeping the bulbs safe in my fridge. I don't want them to start growing too early or they won't flower in the spring.

Fall Bulbs Planting Guide - bulbs will bloom in the following spring

To plant, find a suitable location.  A rich, well-draining soil is the key to growing the prettiest flowers. If you don't have great soil, you may want to amend it with compost or other natural fertilizer to give your bulbs a good growing environment. Most flowering bulbs like full sun, partial sun might work as well.

Simply dig holes to the required depth - usually three times their diameter -  I always double check with a ruler because I am terrible at eyeballing depth. Be sure to loosen soil if it's tightly packed, plant the bulbs pointy side up,  cover with dirt and mulch, and water. I think bulbs look nicest in clusters of 5 -10, but I also love them in long rows as well. When in doubt, read the package directions, as they usually (but not always) include instructions.


Planting Depth

Planting Distance

Allium 4 inches 6 inches
Crocus 3 inches 2 inches
Daffodil 6 inches 4 inches
Hyacinth 6 inches 4 inches
Iris 4 inches 3 inches
Narcissus 6 inches 4 inches
Tulip 6 inches 4 inches

Fall Bulbs Planting Guide - Garlic bulbs

How to plant garlic bulbs

Did you know that there are bulbs in the vegetable garden too? Planting garlic is a lot like planting flowering bulbs, but there are some differences. Before planting garlic, separate the individual cloves from the head. Make sure to leave the paper husk on each individual clove, though; don't peel them. Some directions I've read say to soak the cloves in water with baking soda and liquid seaweed for 2 hours prior to planting. I've never done that,though, and generally have good luck with my garlic!

The best time to plant garlic is after the first light frost. To plant, dig a furrow about 3 inches deep, plant individual cloves pointy side up 6-8 inches apart, cover with 2 inches of dirt, and 6 inches of mulch. Make sure to plant your garlic in a weed-free area as they don't compete well with weeds. My seed garlic will be here in a couple of weeks and I'm excited to plant it!

Fall bulbs planting guide for gorgeous spring flowers

That's all there is to planting bulbs! Not too hard, right? Prepare to amaze and wow your family and friends in the spring with your beautiful flowers and delicious garlic! What's your favorite bulb to grow?

For more information -

ISU Extension - Planting Spring Flowering Bulbs

Seed Saver's - Garlic Growing Guide

Untrained Housewife  - How to Plant Garlic

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I’m Michelle and I blog over at Simplify, Live, Love. I live in rural Eastern Iowa with my husband, 4 kiddos, 17 chickens 3 rabbits, 1 dog, AND a cat. We are self employed crazies trying to balance it all and live sustainably at the same time. In addition to blogging, I garden, can, homeschool, and teach online community college classes too! Hop on over for more on our crazy life in Eastern Iowa.

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