Spring Planted Bulbs - Planting Guidelines By Variety

Review general planting guidelines for spring-planted flower bulb varieties. See height, zones, light requirements, planting depth, and spacing at a glance. Spring-planted bulbs are planted in the spring and bloom in the summer.

When and Where to Plant

Wait until all danger of frost is past and the soil temperature is above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If you must store the bulbs more than a few days before planting, read the instructions in Storing Your Bulbs Before Planting in Spring.

Unless otherwise noted, bulbs prefer well-drained soil. Soggy soil will lead to rot. If your soil is wet consider planting bulbs in raised beds or in containers. For best results follow the recommendations for light levels; for example, bulbs that prefer full sun may grow leggy and topple over if planted in shade.

Preparing the Soil

Loosen soil in the planting bed to a depth of at least 8". Although bulbs contain all the nutrients they need to grow and bloom this season, you may want to mix some compost into the planting bed to help improve drainage. If you want to add fertilizer, mix it into the soil at this time. (Avoid adding fertilizer directly to the planting hole because concentrated fertilizer can burn roots.)

Planting the Bulbs

Planting depth is measured from the soil line to the top of the bulb.

Using a trowel or bulb planter, dig a hole to the recommended depth. Plant the bulb by placing it in the hole, then backfill with soil, firming it gently.Which end is up? If the bulb has a pointed end, plant this end up. If you are unsure which is the, plant bulbs on their side. Bulbs planted with the wrong end up will still grow, but they may take longer than usual to emerge. Water thoroughly after planting to settle the soil around the bulbs.

It may take weeks or even a month for the growth on new bulbs to emerge. How quickly a bulb grows depends on a number of factors, including the species, degree of dormancy and temperature of the soil.

Ongoing Care

  • Apply water as necessary to keep soil moist but not soaking wet. Apply a 2" to 3" layer of organic mulch, like shredded bark or pine straw, after planting to help conserve soil moisture and prevent weeds.
  • Keep an eye out for any soil disturbance, as this could indicate that the bulbs are being dug up by squirrels, chipmunks or rabbits.
  • Tall, top-heavy plants may need staking or another type of support to keep them from falling over from the weight of the flowers. Removing spent blooms will encourage dahlias and other shrubby flowers to continue blooming. Other than that, most bulbs are relatively maintenance-free during the growing season.

Spring-planted bulbs in colder climates (Zones 1-7):

Most spring-planted bulbs are native to warm climates and need protection from cold weather. You can either dig them up out of the ground and store in cardboard boxes filled with peat moss or sawdust, or if planted in pots, just bring the pots indoors.

Spring-planted bulbs in warmer climates (Zones 8-11. ):

In regions with mild winters many spring-planted bulbs can be left in the ground year-round. If you experience occasional light frosts, protect the bulbs with mulch during the winter.

 

Planting Guidelines For Spring Planted Bulbs by Variety

Anemone (Windflower)

Height: 4-12"
Annual in zone 3
Perennial in zones 4-9 
Light: Part sun to full shade
Planting depth: Plant 5" deep. Soak bulbs for 2 hours in luke warm water before planting. 
Spacing: 16 bulbs per sq. ft.
See more information

Arum italicum

Height: 12-14"
Annual in zones 3-4
Perennial in zones 5-9
Light: Part sun to full shade
Planting depth: 5"
Spacing: 4 bulbs per sq. ft.
See more information

Baboon Flower (Babiana stricta)

Height: 6-12" 
Annual in zone 3
Perennial in zones 4-10
Light: Full sun to part shade
Planting depth: 5" 
Spacing: 15 bulbs per sq. ft.
See more information

Begonia

Height: 4-12" 
Annual in zones 3-7
Perennial in zones 8-10
Light: Part sun to full shade
Planting depth: 2"
Spacing: 3 bulbs per sq. ft.
See more information

Belladonna Lily or Naked Lily

Height: 24-36" 
Annual in zones 3-6
Perennial in zones 7-11
Light: Full sun
Planting depth: 4"
Spacing: 1-3 bulbs per sq. ft.
See more information

Caladium

Height: 12-24", depending on variety
Annual in zones 3-8
Perennial in zones 9-10
Light: Part sun to full shade
Planting depth: Plant so the top of the root is 1" below the soil line.
Spacing: 4 bulbs per sq. ft.
See more information

Calla Lily

Height: 12-30" depending on variety
Annual in zones 3-7
Perennial in zones 8-10
Light: Full sun
Planting depth: 4"
Spacing: 3 bulbs per sq. ft.
See more information

Canna Lily

Height: 16-72" depending on variety
Annual in zones 3-6
Perennial in zones 7-10
Light: Full sun
Planting depth: 4-6"
Spacing: 1 bulb/rhizome per sq. ft.
See more information

Crocosmia

Height: 16-36", depending on variety
Annual in zones 3-4
Perennial in zones 5-9
Light: Full sun to part shade
Planting depth: 5-8"
Spacing: 6 bulbs per sq. ft.
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Dahlia

Height: 12-48" depending on variety
Annual in zones 3-7
Perennial in zones 8-11
Light: Full sun
Planting depth: Bulbs/Tubers should be planted 1" to 2" below the soil line.
Spacing: 1 bulb/tuber per sq. ft.
See more information

Double Tuberosa The Pearl

Height: 24-36"
Annual in zones 3-6
Perennial in zones 7-10
Light: Full sun
Planting depth: Plant tubers horizontally (laying flat) 2" to 3" below the surface.
Spacing: 3 bulbs per sq. ft.
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Elephant Ears

Height: 36-72", depending on variety
Annual in zones 3-6
Perennial in zones 7-11
Light: Full sun to part shade
Planting depth: 4"
Spacing: 24-36"
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Firecracker Flowers Pink Diamond

Height: 20-24" 
Annual in zones 3-6
Perennial in zones 7-10
Light: Full sun to part shade
Planting depth: 2-3"
Spacing: 2-3" apart
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Four O'Clocks (Mirabilis jalapa)

Height: 20-24" 
Annual in zones 3-6
Perennial in zones 7-10
Light: Full sun to part shade
Planting depth: 2-3"
Spacing: 10 bulbs per sq. ft.
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Foxtail Lily (Eremurus bungei)

Height: 6-8' 
Annual in zones 3-4
Perennial in zones 5-8
Light: Full sun to part shade
Planting depth: 5"
Spacing: 8-10"
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Gladiolus, Hardy

Height: 12-18" 
Annual in zones 3-5
Perennial in zones 6-10
Light: Full sun
Planting depth: 6"
Spacing: 12 bulbs per sq. ft.
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Gladiolus

Height: 36-60" 
Annual in zones 3-7
Perennial in zones 8-10
Light: Full Ssun
Planting depth: 8"
Spacing: 4 bulbs per sq. ft.
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Gloriosa Lily

Height: 5-6' 
Annual in zones 3-6
Perennial in zones 7-10
Light: Full sun
Planting depth: Plant tubers horizontally (laying flat) 2" to 3" below the surface.
Spacing: 1bulb per sq. ft.
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Lily

Height: 18-72" depending on variety
Perennial in zones 3-8
Light: Full sun to part shade
Planting depth: 6"
Spacing: 3-4 bulbs per sq. ft.
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Mexican Shellflower (Tigridia pavonia)

Height: 12-18" 
Annual in zones 3-8
Perennial in zones 9-10
Light: Full sun
Planting depth: 2-3"
Spacing: 9 bulbs per sq. ft.
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Montbretia

Height: 18-24" 
Annual in zones 3-8
Perennial in zones 9-10
Light: Full sun to part shade
Planting depth: 5-8"
Spacing: 9 bulbs per sq. ft.
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Nerine

Height: 24-26" 
Annual in zones 3-8
Perennial in zones 9-10
Light: Full sun to part shade
Planting depth: 2-3"
Spacing: 3-4 bulbs per sq. ft.
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Peacock Orchid (Gladiolus acidanthera)

Height: 18-24" 
Annual in zones 3-6
Perennial in zones 7-10
Light: Full sun
Planting depth: 3-4"
Spacing: 9 bulbs per sq. ft.
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Peruvian Daffodil or Spider Lily (Hymenocallis festalis)

Height: 14-16" 
Annual in zones 3-7
Perennial in zones 8-10
Light: Part sun to full shade
Planting depth: 2-3"
Spacing: 3 bulbs per sq. ft.
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Purple Shamrock or Wood Sorrell (Oxalis triangularis)

Height: 4-6" 
Annual in zones 3-5
Perennial in zones 6-10
Light: Full sun
Planting depth: 2-3"
Spacing: 10 bulbs per sq. ft.
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Rain Lily or Fairy Lilies (Zephyranthus)

Height: 6-10"
Annual in zones 3-6
Perennial in zones 7-10
Light: Full sun to part shade
Planting depth: 2-3"
Spacing: 9 bulbs per sq. ft.
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Ranunculus (Persian Buttercups)

Height: 12-14" 
Annual in zones 3-7
Perennial in zones 8-10
Light: Full sun
Planting depth: 2-3"
Spacing: 3-4 bulbs per sq. ft.
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Shamrock Flower (Oxalis deppei)

Height: 12" 
Annual in zone: 3-5
Perennial in zone 6-10
Light: Full sun
Planting depth: 2-3"
Spacing: 10 bulbs per sq. ft.
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Starflower (Triteleia)

Height: 12-18" 
Annual in zones 3-6
Perennial in zones 7-10
Light: Full sun to part shade
Planting depth: 2-3"
Spacing: 16 bulbs per sq. ft.
See more information

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