When to Plant Fall Bulbs

Source:, & bsoluteyogasamui, montage:

Each expert has a different answer when it comes to recommending when to plant fall bulbs. I thought it would be fun to put some of them together in one text. They include:

  1. When the soil temperature is below 50? F (10? C).
  2. When night air temperatures consistently remain below 55? C (13? C).
  3. When fall leaves start to change color.
  4. When the crickets stop singing.
  5. When squirrels bury more acorns than they eat.
  6. When birds begin to leave for the South.
  7. When you have to start heating your home.
  8. When the air smells of burning leaves.
  9. When the grapes begin to ripen on the vine.
  10. When hostas are starting to turn yellow.
  11. When the air has that “leaves after a rain” smell.
  12. When your dog only lies down in full sun.
  13. When children begin to put their coats on without you needing to remind them.

Personally, I plant any time between when the bulbs arrive in stores and the ground freezes hard. Why make life more complicated than it already is?

(Thanks to Sally Ferguson of Ferguson Caras LLC for the idea and the info.)

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

2 comments on “When to Plant Fall Bulbs

  1. Monty on gardeners world said that if it’s in pots anytime is fine but in the ground it should be November otherwise they might get ‘tulip fire’

    • I wonder if you garden in the United Kingdom, where cool temperatures arrive later than here in North America. (I’ve just come in from planting bulbs and my fingers are nearly frozen!) That might make sense there. Where winter comes early and the ground freezes (not something that happens much in the UK, planting in November could be a bit late, at least in most years, not allowing the bulbs to root properly.

      Of course, is tulip fire a common disease where you garden? It’s fairly rare condition if you buy quality bulbs. I suggest that if you haven’t had a problem with this disease in the past, late planting is not going give you much of an advantage.

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