Late fall is the time to plant a few bulbs

Looking to add more spring color to your gardens next year?  Didn’t plant as many as you thought last year?  Well fall is the time to plant these spring blooming beauties.  In Chicago you’ll see bulbs  start showing up in garden centers and your box stores around the end of September.  Most people will buy these bulbs then; but if you wait, these same bulbs can be bought for 50%-75% off.  This may take till Mid-October thru November but they go on clearance every year.  If there is a bulb you really want, and there aren’t that many of, I would purchase them before they go on clearance… JUST IN CASE!

“This late in the season, its safe to plant bulbs?”  YES!  Even though most sources say plant at least 2 weeks before your ground freezes – I find that it doesn’t matter.  I have planted bulbs in December, snow on the ground and all.  A sharp spade is needed to get through the frozen top layer of soil but it can be done. And as always plant the bulbs about 2 1/2 – 3 times deep as the size of the bulb.  I do not use any bone meal at this time.  I always add compost, peatmoss, bonemeal, bloodmeal, coffee grinds, and whatever else is good to my garden during the growing season.  You can use bone meal if you like, but make sure it doesn’t touch your bulbs.  Cover your bulbs with some dirt fist then add bonemeal  and finish filling the dirt.

What to plant?  Well all bulbs will be marked as being perennial.  Although this is true, this doesn’t mean they will look good year after year.  Bulbs such as tulips, and dutch iris will bloom amazingly the first year.  But after that its down hill.  You will be lucky to have 2 bloom the 2nd spring after planting.  This is because these bulbs are grown in perfect conditions allowing them to get large enough to bloom.  I avoid these bulbs personally because I think of it as a waste of time and money.  So stick with bulbs that are naturalizing (these bulbs will come back every year most will even multiply!).  Crocus, Daffodils, Scillia, and allium are the most common. If you absolutely need tulips, there are some that will naturalize – Darwin hybrids and the species.   The Darwin hybrids wont naturalize, but you should get blooms for at least 5 years.  The species should multiply for many years of enjoyment.  Darwin hybrids look like the tulips you normally see, while the species will have smaller flowers so should be planted along a path where they will be noticed.

Rather than planting bulbs individually I dig a trench and have someone follow me with the bulbs. Placing them in the trenches, LEAVING THEM UNCOVERED until all the bulbs are all used. This makes visualizing the spring picture much easier. If you dig up some previous years bulbs just replant them, and plant new ones else where.  Even if you cut these bulbs in half they almost always live.  These are the bulbs I planted this fall.  Thanks to Trish   for letting me drag her along to help plant all of them.



  • Split Corona Mix
  • Replete
  • Ice King
  • Thalia
  • Salome
  • Red Devon
  • Cheerfulness
  • Pink Charm
  • Jetfire
  • California
  • Sir Winston Churchill
  • Barrett Browning
  • Golden Ducat


  • Tall Mix
  • Globemaster
  • Raspberry Cream Blend


  • Crocus – Vanguard
  • Crocus – Ruby Giant
  • Crocus – Mix
  • Puschkinia