Our favorite lesson in delayed gratification, fall planted bulbs are well worth the wait for the burst of color they provide to announce the arrival of spring. These guidelines will help you determine when to plant, and how to maintain and best care for your bulbs once they've flowered.
When To Plant
Most bulbs can be planted throughout the fall and even into winter, as long as the ground is not frozen. Keep in mind that if you wait until winter, the first season of bloom will be delayed by several weeks and may not be as strong.
For shallow-planted fall bulbs like crocus and muscari, plant as soon as possible to allow roots to develop before bloom. September and October is usually best for these.
How To Plant
Ideally, the soil should be cultivated 12" down and amended with organic matter. Each bulb should have its own hole, and the general rule of thumb is to plant the bulb with three times its height of soil over it. For small bulbs, a clearing can be made to nestle a group all together instead of digging individual holes.
Back fill and water to help eliminate air pockets. Apply mulch and an organic, balanced (10-10-10) fertilizer through the fall. They will need good, moist soil through to spring, and then can stay dry for the summer.
For perennial bulbs, maintain foliage until leaves yellow, when they may be cut back. It is essential for the foliage to remain on the bulb to build energy for the next flowering season.