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.)

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.

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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