ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Planting bulbs guide

Updated on January 6, 2018
  • Bulbs is a term loosely given to all true bulbs, corms, tubers, tuberous roots and rhizomes.
  • Bulbs require well-drained soil. Do not dig planting area when wet.
  • Bulbs like bonemeal or a little 5-10-10 fertilizer.
  • Do not allow the fertilizer to come into direct contact with the bulbs or the roots. Dig the hole a little deeper than needed, add fertilizer, cover with soil, and then place bulb in hole.
  • Most bulbs left in the ground for years prefer to have 8-10 hours of sunlight per day.

How to plant bulbs

Planting bulbs is very easy. Dig a hole to the proper depth and plant the bulb in an up-right manner. On most bulbs "up" would be the pointy portion of the bulb. Roots down should be the second clue. Corms such as Cyclamen and Gladiolus can be more difficult for the novice. Scilla and crocus are so round it is often hard to tell which portion belongs up. So when in doubt plant them on their side. A sideways planting of Gladiolus is by far better than planting them upside-down. The plant will know which way to grow no matter how you plant it but it will use up far too much energy growing from an upside down postion to provide you with good blooms year after year.

So now you have emptied the pouch of bulbs you have bought from the local store. You are looking carefully at each one and you have decided that half of them have no up or down. Don't feel bad. This is a common problem that plagues even the most experienced gardener on occasion. Even the common daffodil has been known to produce a bulb once in a while that will stump an experienced gardener. So, if this is your first time planting a bulb or your first time planting a particular bulb, don't panic. Look carefully for either the point or the roots. Sometimes you can tell by the papery skin and the direction it peels away. The skin should be attached at the bottom. If you still don't have a clue, ask an experienced gardener.

If a bulb is to be planted 3 inches deep, then the bottom of the hole should be three inches from the surface. If it is planted too shallow, it may not survive the winter. If it is planted too deep, it may not bloom.

Bulbs can be planted in a stacking fashion, but try not to plant them on top of each other. Late blooming daffodils are planted first, then mid-season blooming tulips are planted; on top of them are crocus followed by Muscari or Galanthus. First the little bulbs start blooming followed by the crocus, then the tulips, and then the daffodils. What a spectacular amount of almost continuous color in a little space!

If wildlife seems to eat your favorite bulbs, try planting them in wire cages. Quarter inch mesh protects against most predators. Or protect them with daffodil bulbs. Plant the bulbs over, around, and under your favorite bulbs. Tulip bulbs appeal to squirrels with the same intensity as chocolate does to us.

Hint: If planting bulbs in the lawn, use a bulb planter. Press to the proper depth, twist and remove the soil along with a grass plug. Place bulb in the hole, return some of the soil, add a pinch of bonemeal, return more soil; then add the grass plug and firmly tamp into place. When finished the grass should not look like it has been disturbed.

Planting Dutch Bulbs

Most all the Dutch bulbs we plant are raised in the Netherlands. There are a few large growers there and some smaller farms that are raising for the big boys. And then some small independent growers that have carved a niche with certain bulbs. Now these bulbs are distributed by hundreds of companies all over the world. So if you are buying from "X", "Y", or "Z" the chances are you are buying bulbs raised in the same fields.

Now there is a difference in quality and/or size of bulbs, so they are graded. Most of our distributors are selling Grade A bulbs. There is a Grade B and a C. (But it is like buying eggs - try to find Grade B. The stores all carry Grade A eggs.) In bulbs, Grade B is usually what is available for bulk purchase - which is different from wholesale. Let's say you wanted two boxcar loads of bulbs - by purchasing Grade B you would save thousands of dollars. Grade B would be a little smaller and maybe misshapen, but would still bloom; and the difference between Grade A and Grade B would be insignificant.

Now lets say you order bulbs from one of the big boys and your order totals "X" amount of money. As a thank you for your order they will send you free bulbs. You might be receiving Grade B on those. There is nothing wrong with Grade B bulbs, they are excellent for naturalizing or for mass plantings.

Dutch bulbs do not have to be raised in the Netherlands. There are many companies right here in the U.S.A. raising Dutch bulbs for the American market. Some are sold directly to the public and others are raised here; sent to the Netherlands, packaged, and sold to the public as if they were raised there.

The vast majority of the new varieties are coming from the United States. They are bred here and then tried in fields. Field trials can take up to 20 years. After field trials they are sent to the Netherlands, where they undergo additional trials before entering the market.

When it comes to buying bulbs by mail order, it is important to deal with a reputable company. One that will properly hold and ship bulbs, so they arrive fresh at your doorstep. Make sure the company has a satisfaction guarantee and that you do not have to jump through hoops to get your money back if you are not satisified.

Planting depths for various bulbs

Planting Depth
Bulbs by Botanical Name
1 inch
Tuberous Begonia, Cyclamen, Lilium candidum, Convallaria, Eranthus, Iris (bearded), Amaryllis belladonna
2 inches
Ranunculas, Achimenes, Hippeastrum, Anemone, Eranthus
3 inches
Gloriosa, Caladium, Muscari, Scilla, Galanthus, Chionodoxa
3,5 inches
Crocus, Crocosmia, Zephyanthes
4 inches
Freesia, Colchicum, Iris (Dutch), Lycoris, Fritillaria, Arum
5 inches
Polanthus, Zantedeschia, Dahlia
6 inches
Canna, Hyacinthoides, Gladiolus
6,5 inches
Tulipa, Galtonia
7 inches
Acidanthera, Sternbergia
8 inches
Narcissus, Lilium, Allium

These are the planting depths for sandy, well-drained, soils that have been amended with compost to hold moisture.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)