When to Plant Fall Flower Bulbs: Mid-Atlantic Coast
Region "B" — Mid-Atlantic Coast
Optimum Planting Time:
October 1st - November 30th
USDA Hardiness Zones:
6, 7, 8
In your area, you may be able to grow many of the tropical and other marginally hardy plants by planting in warmer 'micro-climates' protected from exposure to winds and extreme cold. If you're concerned about bulb foliage that emerges in the fall or winter, put a light pine needle or straw mulch around the leaves to protect them from frost burn (but don't worry, such leaf damage is only cosmetic and won't affect the flowers).
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 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: If voles or other animal pests are eating your tulips, crocuses, or lilies, spraying the bulbs with a product such as Ropel may help protect them. To ward off subterranean "bulb rustlers," try placing Vole Block or sharp granules of a gravel-like substance around bulbs to help create a physical barrier. For deer, trials of deer repellent products, such as Deer Off (must be applied at emergence and until bloom), have had some success.
A Sampling of Flower Bulbs for Perennializing (Return for Several Years):