Plant bulbs in spring

Can you plant bulbs in spring if you didn’t get around to it in the fall?

Yes, indeed, you can, and it’s easy because plant sellers now offer bulb plants grown in containers and ready to pop into your garden at normal bulb-blooming time.

Nursery-grown plants can take what Mother Nature dishes out in spring, if you help them acclimatize in a sheltered spot outdoors before you plant them.

When to plant bulbs in spring

plant bulbs in spring

To plant bulbs in spring – or rather bulb plants – wait until the crocuses and daffodils are coming up outdoors.

That’s when it’s safe to plant potted bulbs as bedding plants.

One of the good things about planting daffodils, tulips, and smaller bulbs, like grape hyacinth, crocus and scilla, in spring is that it’s easy to see where you need more spots of color.

What about bulbs you forgot to plant last fall?

If you left a few bulbs you bought last fall lying around unplanted all winter, they’re generally not worth planting now. You could try it, of course, but chances are that they’re not going to grow successfully.

How-to: Planting bulbs in spring

plant bulbs in spring

Windflower (Anemone blanda)
Photo: ©Y.Cunnington

The key to success is to choose potted bulbs that are still green – in bud, but not in bloom.

Good candidates include tulips,hyacinths and daffodils, plus little bulbs like Dutch iris (Iris reticulata), daffodils, windflowers (Anemone blanda), crocusesand grape hyacinths (Muscari).

When you bring them home, water the pots well, then place them in a cold but protected area that’s above freezing for a day or so to let them get used to colder temperatures before you plant them outside.

When planting bulbs in spring, slip off the plastic pot and plant the works ‘as is’ into your garden beds or into a large-sized container, just as you would with store-bought petunias or impatiens in early summer.

Once the bulbs are in the ground (or in a pot on your porch or deck), they won’t mind the cold and they can weather even the odd snow shower.

Their blooms will also last a lot longer than they would indoors. A pot of hyacinths indoors at normal room temperature will grow and bloom over a period of about two weeks. However, the same bulbs planted in the garden can last a month or more because of cooler outdoor temperatures.