It's a fact of life: to enjoy the fabulous bulb flowers that bloom in spring -- such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus and others -- you must plant them in the fall. Spring-flowering bulbs must be planted in the fall because they require a sustained "dormant" period of cold temperatures to stimulate root development.
Organic bulb gardening: Unlike chemical bulb growers, organic growers don't feed their plants, they feed the soil. Organic bulb farmers nurture the soil with composts, cover crops, rock minerals and natural fertilizers. Healthy soil creates healthy plants and healthy people! Besides being good for the earth, bulbs grown with organic methods are the healthiest and strongest bulbs you can get, giving you brighter blooms that last longer!
When to plant: As a rule, the colder your climate, the earlier you plant. In colder northern climates, plant in late September or October. In warmer climates you may need to plant bulbs in December (or even later).
Did you know you have about 8 weeks to plant after the first frost? As long as the ground is not frozen, you can still plant bulbs! If you plant in November or later, it's best to store your bulbs in a refrigerator November 1st untill you are ready to plant. If you live in zone 8 and higher (pink and red areas on the map below), we recommend to start pre-cooling the bulbs October 1st.
Don't plant your bulbs too early! In many states the soil temperature is too warm in September & October. Your bulbs start to rot if the soil is warm & wet (the voles/moles are blaimed often for disappearing, but I think many times bulbs are just rotted away...). Never plant when temperatures of 70's/80's outside are your daily avarage. Planting early will also encourage squirrels and other animals to dig up your bulbs. Wait until the soil temperature drops below 55 degrees. Here in Central Virginia we plant most of our bulbs early November, we store the bulbs from November 1st in a cool room at 49 degrees. You can use a refrigerator vegetable compartment, but be sure to keep them away from ripening fruit(store them in another drawer or shelf). The gas emitted by fruit's ripening process can destroy bulbs. Place the bulbs in an open paper bag or an egg carton.
Planting depth: If you want to try to perennialize your tulips or you have a squirrel problem, plant them 8 inches deep! If you are using tulips as annuals, 3-5 inch deep is okay too.
Spacing: Tulips/crocus/muscari etc can all be planted without any spacing. It will give a stunning show the first spring! However, if you are trying to perennialize bulbs, space the bulbs at least 3 inch apart.