When to Plant Flower Bulbs
Early fall is the optimal time to plant most flower bulbs. Though you can plant flower bulbs right up to the first frost, the optimal time to plant is early fall to allow ample time for the roots to develop before the ground freezes fully. If the ground freezes before the roots develop, the flowers may not blossom uniformly in the spring. In addition, the soil shifts often during the freezing and thawing process of the seasons. A bulb that has not had time to develop strong roots may be uprooted.
How to Plant Flower Bulbs
Flower bulbs require fertile, well-drained soil to develop. Excessive soil water buildup can cause flower bulbs to rot.
Dig the hole. The depth of the hole will depend on the type of the bulb you are planting. You can refer to the grower's instructions for your particular bulb, but the general rule of thumb is to bury the bulb two to three times the height of the bulb.
Fertilize the bulb. The bulb is the portion of the flower that requires fertilization. Sprinkle the fertilizer at the bottom of the hole, and then cover with an inch or so of soil.
Plant bulb with the growing tip facing skyward.
Mulch the bed the help the soil to maintain consistent temperature and moisture.
How to Amend Soil
Even if you don't have the perfect soil, you can amend it to make it more fertile for flower bulbs. If you have clay soil, add fibrous amendments such as peat or wood chips. The ratio will depend upon how much clay is present in the soil. The goal is to increase aeration and drainage.
If you have sandy soil, you will need to amend it to increase its ability to retain moisture. Choose an amendment with high water retention properties such as peat or compost.
Fertilizing Flower Bulbs
Fertilizer is only effective in the root zone. Bulbs require phosphorous, but once phosphorous hits the soil, it moves very little, which is why it is important that the fertilizer be dug right into the soil at planting time. Make sure that there is plenty of soil between the fertilizer and the bulb.
Watering Flower Bulbs
Always deeply water the area around your flower bulbs. Though all parts of the plant require benefit from watering, the bulb itself will nourish the plant. You will need to water sufficiently so that the water penetrates the soil to the bulb portion of the plant.
Be careful not to overwater. Constantly soggy conditions promote root rot.