Our friends at Netherland Bulb Company know what they’re talking about when it comes to planting bulbs, and we want to share their wealth of knowledge with you.

Fall-planted bulbs take a little patience and planning but can be some of the easiest flowers to grow. Let the winter come and go, and before you know it, you’ll see sprouts. Make your neighbors envious of your colorful spring display by reading more about how to plant bulbs this fall.

What are Fall Planting Bulbs?

Fall planting bulbs are flower bulbs planted during the autumn to provide color and flowers the following spring. Bulbs like tulips, crocus, hyacinth, daffodils, and alliums are perfect to plant when the ground is cool but not frozen. This allows the plants to develop robust root systems to keep them anchored and healthy during the winter frost. Plant fall bulbs after the temperature reach 65 degrees or lower.

Know Your Hardiness Zone:

Familiarize yourself with your location’s hardiness zone. Hinsdale, IL, and the surrounding areas fall within zones 5 and 5b. Proper knowledge of your zone will eliminate failure and frustration.

Bulb Storage:

Bulbs at the garden center are alive and carry a shelf life of 4 months. Shopping earlier generally offers more variety, so you can consider shopping and storing for later. Keep your bulbs in a cool and dry location before planting. If the area you choose ends up being too humid, you can still plant those bulbs. Just make sure the sprout is not damaged or removed.

Bulb Selection:

When selecting bulbs, make sure they are firm and not mushy or soft. Don’t worry too much about mold on the outer skin. It can be easily brushed off and does not cause harm to the bulb. If cared for properly, some varieties will naturalize in the garden. Varieties such as daffodils, crocus, hyacinth, muscari, and alliums. However, Tulips are not native to American gardens and will not return the following year; pull and replant new bulbs the next fall.

How to Plant Bulbs:

Plant Bulbs about 8” deep for larger bulbs and 5” deep for the smaller varieties. As a general rule, the depth of the bulb should be 3x the diameter. Bulbs prefer soil that drains well, so avoid areas with heavy amounts of water. When choosing planting locations, plant bulbs in clumps or staggers to create more extensive washes of color. Paying attention to each bulb’s bloom time can help fill in spent blooms in the garden and make a show of color that lasts all spring. Always place the bulb with the pointed side up and the flatter side (often with tiny roots) down, cover with soil, water, and let the winter rains and snow take care of watering until spring.


Keep it simple, do nothing after the flower has bloomed and faded. Let the plant die back naturally and brownout throughout late spring and early summer. During this period, the flower bulb will gain back all of the energy spent in flowering and continue its life cycle. After time, some bulbs will need to be dug up and divided. Bulbs benefit from feeding with a specific mild fertilizer designed for bulbs. Most general fertilizers are too harsh for bulbs. If you do not like to see the dying foliage, we recommend planting your spring-flowering bulbs among perennials. As the spring-flowering bulbs die back, the summer flowering perennials start to emerge.

Hinsdale Nurseries is happy to help you find bulbs for your landscape. Stop into the nursery and let’s dig in!


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