When Should I Plant Bulbs?

Autumn has officially arrived in Oklahoma, however, as Oklahoma weather often stays warm long into October, we may have a few more weeks of warm weather before the temperatures begin to cool down. This gives both beginner and master gardeners a few more weeks to begin planning for the spring and what they want their flower beds to look like. As every experienced gardener knows, the design phase of gardening is where the majority of the fun happens!


Fall allows a jump start to spring growth. Cooler temperatures allow working outside to become an even more pleasurable experience than usual, and the wonderful colors that autumn brings will be on full display as you prepare your flower bed for spring’s arrival. As you prepare your garden this fall for optimal springtime growth, here are a few suggestions to keep in mind.

When to plant bulbs?


Bulbs should be planted as soon as the ground is cool, usually when evening temperatures average between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a Farmer’s Almanac handy, 6 weeks before the ground freezes is also the optimal time to plant bulbs. Water your bulbs thoroughly during planting, but after that, the normal autumn rainfall should be sufficient for bulbs to grow strong roots. Most bulbs are native to regions with cold winters and dry, hot summers. If planted too soon, bulbs may be susceptible to rot and/or mildew. If you’re a procrastinator, you’re in luck, because waiting another week or two may be in your best interest for a beautiful spring garden. However, if it’s the dead of winter and you happen to stumble across a bag of bulbs you forgot to plant, there are two options to save these bulbs. If you wait to plant until next year, your bulbs will dry out and die, after all, bulbs are living plants. Plant them in a pot and chill it in the refrigerator or somehow get them into the ground outside. You may still see these plants come spring. If anything, you at least gave them a chance.

How to plant bulbs?


There are a few things to remember when planting bulbs in the fall. The sun pattern isn’t the same in the fall as it is in the spring so don’t be fooled planting flowers love shade based on the fall sun pattern. Keep in mind, the lighting may be different in the spring. Always plant your bulbs where the soil drains to avoid the places where water can collect. Now planting can begin.

  • Bulbs are most effective when planted in bunches. Groupings of six to 12 are most common in small gardens and larger groupings of 12 to 24 in larger areas.
  • How deep you dig is determined by how big the bulbs are. Tulips, daffodils and alliums should be planted about eight to 12 inches deep and smaller bulbs like crocus and snowdrops should be planted just a little shallower at four to six inches deep.
  • Spacing the bulbs is important. Give larger bulbs three to four inches apart while smaller ones only need an inch or two.
  • If you can’t determine which side is up, plant the bulbs sideways and they’ll do the rest of the work as they grow. Smart plants, these bulbs.

Have fun with your design. Get creative and plant your bulbs with colors, sizes, types of flowers in mind. If you have a large area, you’ll have more opportunity to be creative in your design. If you have a small garden, your creativity will be seen more in space utilization and how you arrange your bulbs. Though gratification isn’t instant in this case, you will love the way your garden looks when we spring forward and shake off the cold Oklahoma winter.