When is the best time to plant my flower bulbs?
Posted by Ben Rotteveel on

When is the best time to plant my flower bulbs?

Planting season is here! A busy and exciting time at DutchGrown. The coming weeks this blog will be giving you all the best insights, tips and information to ensure you get the best results come spring.


Vague fall

As you might have read many times before on this blog, the best time to plant flower bulbs is ‘in the fall’. But that’s quite a loose definition really. When does this ‘fall’ happen exactly? The exact moment your calendar changes from the 20th to the 21st of September? The first day the leaves change color from green to beautiful yellow, red and brown? When the first pumpkin spice latte is sold? Or maybe even the day you realize you’re slowly growing tired of pumpkin spice everything?

Time to plant your spring flowering bulbs


Soil temperature

The actual key to the best flower bulb planting time is temperature, or to be more specific: soil temperature. You don’t want to plant your bulbs in ground that is too warm, because this will make them think they should start growing right away, which means they will waste all their precious power on making foliage in fall instead of beautiful flowers in spring. A second reason to wait until the soil has cooled down is that bulbs use the cold soil to go through a hibernation process that changes their internal chemistry, which is needed to get ready for their blooming time in spring.


Cool touch

So, what is this magical temperature you want to aim for? A good rule of thumb is to wait until you have had at least two weeks of 50°F (10°C) night time temperatures. Once that has happened you measure the soil temperature by digging a hole a few inches deep and simply sticking your hand into it. If the soil feels warm, it’s too early to plant. If the soil feels cool to the touch, it’s time to get planting!


Your zone

Here at DutchGrown we work with the USDA plant hardiness zones. The lower the number, the colder the zone and the earlier you can start planting your flower bulbs. To find out what zone you’re planting in, have a look at this map:

 DutchGrown - USDA Plant Hardiness Zone map

or visit our easy USDA planting zone finder.


Planting period

The recommended planting times for the USDA zones are as follows:

Zones 1-3 should plant from late August through September

Zones 4 and 5 should plant late September through early October

Zone 6 should plant by mid-October

Zone 7 should plant by early November

Zone 8 should plant between October and December (but consider helping your bulbs a bit by chilling them in your refrigerator)


Frost-free

But what if you live in zone 9 or 10, where the soil never really gets cold enough, even in winter? Fear not, there is a simple solution, so you too can enjoy our lovely tulips, daffodils or crocuses. All you need to do is to store your bulbs in your refrigerator or other cold storage at 40-50 degrees F. for at least 10 weeks to provide the chill that they need, then plant them directly in your garden.  


Frozen ground

What if you live in a colder zone, and for whatever reason you weren’t able to plant your bulbs on time? Good news, bulbs can be planted until the ground is frozen solid. If you’re planting late in the season, do try to plant your bulbs a few inches deeper than you would normally, just to ensure proper insulation. These late-planted flower bulbs might bloom a bit later than their timely counterparts, but eventually they’ll come out just as beautiful.


The time is now

It is getting colder, there’s a nip in the air, the leaves are turning, there are pumpkins everywhere…. It’s the time to get planting. Why not pop on over to our website and order some gorgeous daffodilshyacinths or amazing tulips? Plant them at the right time for your zone, and you will thank yourself once winter is over!


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