When to Plant Flower Bulbs: Northern Pacific Coast
Region "N" — Northern Pacific Coast
Optimum Planting Time:
October 1st - December 1st
USDA Hardiness Zone:
With long cool, wet winters and springs, followed by dry summers and falls, your region is close to perfect for many spring-flowering bulbs. This climate is about as close to the English countryside as we have in the USA.
Plant bulbs in the fall, starting when nighttime temperatures stay between 40-50°F. But be sure to plant approximately six weeks before the ground freezes to allow sufficient time for rooting. Flower bulbs will root best in cool soil and once rooted undergo natural changes that keep them from freezing. Water your bulbs after planting to help them start the rooting process.
After planting, apply slow release "bulb food" fertilizer on the top of the ground to supply nutrients for the second year's bloom. (Fall bulbs are already fully charged with energy for peak flowering performance in their first spring bloom season.) Do not put the fertilizer in the hole with the bulb's tender roots.
Please note: Modern bone meal generally has little value as a bulb fertilizer and often draws rodents and dogs that dig up the bulbs looking for bones!
After the ground cools or freezes, cover your beds with a lightweight mulch (pine needles, buckwheat hulls, straw, or chopped up leaves) 2 — 4 inches thick to help keep down weeds and maintain a consistently cool soil temperature.
Special Note: Begin to plant when the soil cools off but before the weather becomes too wet and uncomfortable, making planting a chore instead of a pleasure. Because your zone 8 looks to be warm on the USDA Hardiness Map, be sure to let mail order companies know you need your bulbs delivered before the heavy rains come. Provide a specific delivery week. Otherwise, they may send your order too late.
A Sampling of Flower Bulbs for Perennializing (Return for Several Years):