are you planting bulbs this fall?

Last weekend, I dug up some dirt and planted some bulbs in our little Catskill garden. Not many, just a few dozen daffodils and alliums. The hope is that we’ll have something sprouting up in early spring to get our bees buzzing. Daffodils are great because they’re yellow (a bee favorite) and supposedly deer don’t like to eat them. Alliums are just beyond gorgeous. I have zero experience when it come to gardening, so I can only hope that I have done it correctly. It seems like the most important thing is make sure they’re deep enough and pointing up in the right direction. After spotting this bushel of bulbs at I fear I need more like 300 than 30! Oi.

What about you? Do you plant bulbs in the fall in hopes of spring flowers? Or perhaps you force them indoors for some winter blooms? — Angela M.

From our partners

we love bulbs and keep adding more every Fall. We live in Michigan and it’s nice to get some early color. Our neighbor a few houses down has the most amazing bulb display. She’s been in that house over 20 years, but keeps tucking in a few more bulbs in the Fall– I asked her how she knows where to put what in the Fall, and she said in the Sping she takes wide angle photos of everything in bloom (she’s a photographer) and refers to that when adding more in Fall. Smart!

oh nice tip Julie, thank your neighbor!
White Flower Farm is having a 40% off bulbs currently. I bought some of their great Alliums last year and they are still dried on my dining room table at about 6″ across, amazing! Gardeners always make fun of my alliums though and just sneer at those “onions.” :(

I plant bulbs every year. I try to concentrate on bulbs that will come back, like species tulips and other kinds of bulbs that don’t require chilling (we’re in California), but I also plant lots of tulips in pots as annuals. I love tulips. And planting them in pots is so much easier than planting them in the ground, especially since they rarely last beyond a couple of years under the best conditions (and California is not the best condition).

The key for me is trying not to buy too many bulbs. If I buy them in smaller batches every year, I have time to see how well they work in the garden and mark out areas on a garden plan for planting the next year, and also it’s not quite so much digging. And spreading the cost out is good, too.

Small batches also gets me out of digging three hundred little holes all over the place: it’s easier to either dig thirty holes every year for ten years, or if I’m feeling really needy of a big swatch of bulb colour, to just trench out a big area, lay the bulbs out, and re-cover it. Given that I’m already at the point where I need to start thinning some bulbs out, which means even more digging, fewer new bulbs is much better.

Sue from Albany

I have tried bulbs for several years now, but I have a yard in the city so I fight a yearly battle with the squirrels- and the squirrels always win. Any tips to prevent the decimation of my garden?

Indoors! I’m going to plant mine this weekend. I love paperwhites!


I LOVE daffodils (well, uh, obviously) and tulips and I plant them every fall. I really like the photograph trick from Julie’s neighbor — that’s smart!

I live in Kansas, and I’ve never quite dug the holes deep enough. I’m too impatient to dig, dig, dig. But my daffodils and tulips pop up regardless! Can’t speak to their durability, though. We keep moving. Maybe in a few years, if we stay put…

Tiffany S.

I use a bulb planter but I think my front beds are pretty full and can’t take anymore.

I did order a mixed bath of 100 before and was completely overwhelmed. My sweet husband spent an afternoon planting them for me, and we were rewarded by an oasis of daffodils come spring!

Then he said I wasn’t allowed to order more than I could plant! :)

I do both, I am already forcing paper whites indoors. I tried forcing hyacinth and tulips last year without any luck. The paper whites are so easy. But I always plant a mix of bulbs. Last year I planted hyacinth, dutch iris, tulips, crocus, daffodils, paper whites, and freesia. All of them appeared dutifully in the spring but the crocus were a big attraction for squirrels. So if you have squirrels in your area then avoid planting crocus bulbs.

bulbs are one of my favorite things about gardening, because I can usually pull it together to dig some holes in the fall, and I always feel rewarded by the blooms in the spring. This year I planted about 100 bulbs (but 60 of them are grape hyacinths,my favorite, and so easy–)
and then three weeks ago, as I was cleaning up I found 3 pots of bulbs I had received as flowers for easter or mother’s day, and they were coming up, so I brought them inside to see what happens. I’ve read they won’t bloom, but we’ll see. Lots of green so far.

shelterrific » Blog Archive » five things we learned last week

[…] a photographer) and refers to that when adding more in Fall. Smart!” Read more great fall planting tips […]

shelterrific » Blog Archive » adventures in beekeeping: a sad spring

[…] unable to dig into their reserve stock in the layer above. It’s so sad, especially now as the first bulbs we planted are starting to sprout. One theory on our failure is that we had tried to start our hives with […]

shelterrific » Blog Archive » what’s blooming in your garden?

[…] fall, for the first time ever, I planted bulbs: a handful of daffodils and a few alliums. Though one of my motivations was to give our bees some early spring eats — and now, sniff, […]