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You can plant bulbs just by covering them with mulch.

Did you know that it’s possible to plant bulbs without digging a hole?

Simply loosen the surface soil, add a little fertilizer or mycorrhizal fungi, then drop the bulbs on the ground. All that’s left is to cover them with 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) of mulch (shredded leaves, straw, pine needles, ramial chipped wood, etc.).

The more fastidious gardeners will, of course, want to reposition the bulbs before covering them with mulch so that the basal plate (flattened part) is directed downwards and the pointed tip upwards, but even if they are placed sideways or upside down, bulbs will still grow.

This method works as well with fall bulbs (tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, garlic) as with summer bulbs (dahlias, gladioli, potatoes, etc.).

Contractile roots

Curiously, hardy bulbs will dig themselves down into the soil over time, eventually reaching a depth of 3 to 10 inches (8 to 25 cm) or more, pulled down to that species’ ideal depth by their contractile roots.

When it comes to being laidback, planting bulbs without digging pretty much takes the cake!

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A covering of mulch won’t keep squirrels away, so you’ll need to use another method. Source: pixabay

*Note that this method does leave the bulbs exposed to squirrels, at least in the case of tulips and crocuses, the only two commonly grown bulbs that squirrels deign to eat. Read Protecting Bulbs from Squirrels to know how to keep them away. For example, you could cover the planting, over top of the mulch, with chicken wire and secure it with stakes. That way, squirrels won’t be able to touch the bulbs.

Reference: Toil-free tulips20171029A ENG

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

1 comment on “No-Dig Method for Planting Bulbs

  1. Thanks for this. We have a great mulch bed with clay soil underneath and this gives me courage to plant my bulbs directly in the mulch!

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