How To Plant Flower Bulb [ Full Guide ]

Flower bulbs are a beautiful and low-maintenance way to add vibrant color to your garden. Whether you’re a novice or experienced gardener, planting flower bulbs is a rewarding and relatively simple process. In this comprehensive guide, you will learn everything you need to know about planting flower bulbs, from understanding the different types and varieties to selecting the right bulbs, timing the planting, preparing the planting site, and much more.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Flower Bulb

Before delving into the detailed steps, here’s a quick overview of how to plant flower bulbs:

  1. Prepare the soil: Ensure the soil is well-draining and has adequate nutrients.

  2. Choose the right bulbs: Select high-quality bulbs that are firm and free from mold or soft spots.

  3. Select the planting location: Consider the sunlight, soil type, and spacing requirements for your chosen bulbs.

  4. Plant at the correct depth: Follow the guidelines for the specific type of bulb you’re planting.

  5. Water and mulch: After planting, water the bulbs thoroughly and apply a layer of mulch to conserve moisture and protect the bulbs.

  6. Maintenance: Monitor the bulbs as they grow, providing additional water if necessary and protecting them from pests.

Now, let’s delve into each of these steps in more detail.

Understanding Flower Bulbs: Types And Varieties

Flower bulbs are underground storage structures that contain the embryonic plant and a store of food to fuel its growth. They come in various shapes, sizes, and types, each with its distinct characteristics and requirements for planting. Understanding the types and varieties of flower bulbs will aid in selecting the right ones for your garden.

Types Of Flower Bulbs

  1. True Bulbs: These bulbs, such as tulips and daffodils, have layers of fleshy scales surrounding a central bud. They produce offsets or bulblets that can be separated and planted to propagate new plants.

  2. Corms: Corms, like those of gladiolus and crocuses, are solid, swollen underground stems. They are typically disc-shaped and develop small cormels around the base as they mature.

  3. Tubers: Some plants, such as begonias and anemones, grow from tubers, which are thickened, underground stems. As the tubers develop, they produce new growth points or "eyes" from which the plant will sprout.

  4. Rhizomes: Irises and cannas are examples of plants that grow from rhizomes, which are underground stems that spread horizontally. These stems develop new shoots and roots at various points along their length.

  5. Bulb-Like Structures: Bulb-like structures, as found in lilies, are not true bulbs but are commonly referred to as such. They consist of modified stem tissue with fleshy scales.

Popular Varieties Of Flower Bulbs

When it comes to selecting flower bulbs, you’ll find a wide variety of options to choose from, each offering unique colors, shapes, and bloom times. Some popular varieties of flower bulbs include:

  1. Tulips: Available in a myriad of colors, tulips are a classic spring-blooming bulb that adds elegance to any garden.

  2. Daffodils: These cheerful yellow or white blooms are a staple of spring and are known for their resilience and deer resistance.

  3. Hyacinths: With their fragrant, tightly packed flower clusters, hyacinths add both color and fragrance to the garden.

  4. Crocuses: These early bloomers are often the first to emerge in the spring, providing a pop of color after the winter months.

  5. Lilies: Lilies are renowned for their large, showy flowers and come in a range of vibrant colors, making them a standout in any garden.

Now that you have a better understanding of the types and varieties of flower bulbs, you can move on to the next step: selecting the right bulbs for your garden.

Selecting Bulbs: How To Choose The Right Ones

Selecting high-quality bulbs is crucial for successful flower bulb planting. Here are some factors to consider when choosing bulbs:

Bulb Quality

When selecting flower bulbs, look for ones that are firm and free from mold or soft spots. The skin should be intact, and the bulb should not show any signs of damage or disease. Avoid purchasing bulbs that feel light or have begun to sprout, as they may not perform well once planted.

Size And Weight

Bigger bulbs generally produce more robust and prolific blooms, so opt for larger bulbs when available. Additionally, the weight of the bulb is indicative of its moisture content and overall health. Heavier bulbs are typically more desirable as they contain more stored energy for the plant to utilize during growth.

Check For Rot Or Damage

Inspect the bulbs for any signs of rot, mold, or physical damage. A healthy bulb should feel solid and have no soft or squishy spots. Discoloration or foul odors are also indications of a deteriorating bulb and should be avoided.

Bulb Variety

Consider the bloom time, height, and color of the flowers when choosing bulbs. Select a variety that complements the overall design of your garden and ensures a succession of blooms throughout the season.

Reputable Suppliers

Purchase bulbs from reputable suppliers to ensure the quality and authenticity of the bulbs. Established nurseries and garden centers are more likely to offer healthy, disease-free bulbs compared to less reputable sources.

Having selected the best bulbs for your garden, the next step is to determine the optimal time to plant them.

Timing: When To Plant Flower Bulbs

The timing of flower bulb planting can significantly impact their performance and the quality of blooms they produce. Generally, the best time to plant flower bulbs is in the fall, allowing them to establish roots before the winter freeze and bloom in the spring. However, specific timing can vary depending on the type of bulb and your climate zone. Here are some guidelines for timing the planting of common flower bulbs:

Spring-Blooming Bulbs

Spring-blooming bulbs, such as tulips, daffodils, and crocuses, should ideally be planted in the early fall, approximately 6 to 8 weeks before the ground freezes. This allows the bulbs to develop a strong root system before the onset of winter.

Summer-Blooming Bulbs

Bulbs that bloom in the summer, including gladiolus and lilies, are best planted in the spring after the danger of frost has passed. These bulbs require warmer soil temperatures to initiate growth and should be planted when the soil has warmed up to about 60°F (15°C) or higher.

Fall-Blooming Bulbs

For bulbs that bloom in the fall, such as autumn crocus and colchicum, they should be planted in late summer or early fall, giving them time to establish roots before the onset of colder weather.

Warm Climate Considerations

In warmer climate zones where the ground seldom freezes, it’s often acceptable to plant bulbs later in the fall or even in early winter. Your local agricultural extension office or a reputable gardening resource in your area can provide specific recommendations based on your climate.

Refrigeration For Warm Climate Planting

In warmer regions where a chilling period is needed for certain bulbs like tulips and daffodils, consider pre-chilling the bulbs in the refrigerator for a period of 10 to 12 weeks before planting. This mimics the cold period they require to break dormancy and encourages strong root development.

By understanding the optimal timing for planting flower bulbs, you can ensure that they have the best possible start and thrive in your garden. With the timing determined, the next step is to prepare the planting site.

Site Preparation: Selecting The Perfect Location

Preparing the planting site for flower bulbs is crucial to their long-term success and performance. Here are the key considerations for selecting the perfect location and preparing the soil for bulb planting:

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Sunlight And Shade

Most flowering bulbs prefer full sun, meaning they need at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. Some bulbs can tolerate partial shade, but for the best flower production, it’s essential to plant them in an area with ample sunlight. Take note of the movement of the sun throughout the day to ensure the selected site receives the required sunlight.

Soil Type And Drainage

Flower bulbs thrive in well-draining soil, so it’s crucial to avoid areas with poor drainage or where water tends to pool. Evaluate the soil type in your garden – whether it’s sandy, loamy, or clay – and amend it if necessary to improve drainage and fertility.

Ph Levels

Test the soil pH using a home testing kit or by sending a sample to a local cooperative extension office. Most bulbs prefer a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH, typically in the range of 6.0 to 7.0. If the pH is too high or too low, you can adjust it by adding lime to raise the pH or elemental sulfur to lower it.

Soil Preparation

Before planting, prepare the soil by removing any weeds or debris. Work the soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches, breaking up clumps and incorporating organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. This improves the soil structure, adds nutrients, and promotes healthy root growth for the bulbs.

Spacing And Arrangement

Consider the mature size of the plants when determining the spacing between bulbs. Allow sufficient space for the plants to grow and spread without overcrowding, which can lead to competition for nutrients and water. For natural-looking displays, consider planting bulbs in clusters or drifts rather than in formal rows.

Planting Depth

Different types of bulbs require varying planting depths, so it’s essential to follow the specific guidelines for each type. As a general rule, bulbs should be planted at a depth that is approximately three times their diameter. Planting too shallow may lead to instability, while planting too deep can inhibit proper emergence and growth.

With the planting site prepared, it’s time to start the process of planting your flower bulbs.

Planting: Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you have chosen the right bulbs, determined the ideal planting time, and prepared the site, it’s time to plant the flower bulbs. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of planting flower bulbs to ensure they thrive and produce stunning blooms.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Before you begin planting, gather your materials, including gloves, a trowel or bulb planter, a watering can or hose, and the bulbs themselves. It’s best to plant bulbs within a day or two of purchasing to ensure they remain healthy and viable.

Step 2: Dig The Planting Holes

Use a trowel or bulb planter to dig individual holes for each bulb. The hole should be deep enough to accommodate the specific planting depth for the type of bulb you are planting. If you are planting a larger quantity of bulbs, consider using a bulb planter tool for efficiency.

Step 3: Position The Bulbs

Place the bulbs in the holes with the pointed or sprouting end facing upwards. If the bulb has no distinct orientation, lay it on its side. Ensure that there is adequate spacing between bulbs to allow for proper growth and air circulation.

Step 4: Backfill And Water

Gently backfill the holes with soil, pressing it down lightly to remove any air pockets. Water the newly planted bulbs thoroughly, ensuring that the soil is evenly moist but not waterlogged. This helps to settle the soil around the bulbs and initiates the process of root development.

Step 5: Mulch The Planting Area

Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw, shredded bark, or compost, over the planting area to conserve moisture and regulate soil temperature. Mulch also helps to suppress weeds and protect the bulbs from temperature fluctuations.

Step 6: Mark The Planting Area

If the planting area is likely to be disturbed, such as in a naturalized or wild garden, consider marking the location of the bulbs with a marker, stakes, or landscape flags. This will help avoid accidental disturbance or damage to the bulbs as they begin to grow.

Step 7: Monitor And Maintain

After planting, it’s important to monitor the newly planted bulbs regularly. Provide supplemental watering if rainfall is insufficient, and continue to care for the bulbs according to their specific requirements as they emerge and grow.

With the bulbs planted and cared for, you can look forward to an explosion of color and beauty in your garden. However, there are some additional tips and considerations to keep in mind to ensure the ongoing health and vitality of your flower bulbs.

Additional Tips For Planting Flower Bulbs

  • Fertilization: Consider incorporating a slow-release bulb fertilizer into the soil at planting time to provide essential nutrients as the bulbs begin to grow.

  • Watering: Regular watering is crucial, especially during dry periods. Keep the soil evenly moist, but be cautious not to overwater, as excessive moisture can lead to bulb rot.

  • Pest Control: Monitor for pests such as squirrels, deer, and rodents, which may be attracted to the bulbs. Consider using physical barriers or repellents to protect the bulbs from damage.

  • Deadheading: After the flowers have finished blooming, remove the spent blossoms to prevent seed formation. This encourages the bulbs to redirect energy into storing nutrients for the following year’s blooms.

  • Dividing and Transplanting: Over time, some bulbs may become overcrowded and require division. Lift and separate bulbs after they have finished flowering and replant them in suitable locations.

  • Winter Protection: In regions with severe winter temperatures, consider applying a layer of mulch or straw over the planting area to insulate the bulbs and protect them from freezing and thawing cycles.

By incorporating these additional tips into your flower bulb planting and maintenance routine, you can help maximize the health and longevity of your bulbs and ensure a stunning display year after year.

Planting flower bulbs is a rewarding and straightforward process that offers vibrant and long-lasting blooms with minimal effort. By understanding the different types and varieties of bulbs, selecting the right ones, timing their planting, and preparing the planting site, you can set the stage for a spectacular garden display. Follow the step-by-step planting guide and incorporate additional tips for ongoing care, and you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking floral showcase that will brighten your garden for years to come.

Soil Preparation: Ensuring Optimal Growing Conditions

Flower bulbs are a popular choice among gardeners for their beauty and the ease with which they can be grown. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, planting flower bulbs can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Before planting flower bulbs, it is crucial to prepare the soil to provide optimal growing conditions. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Choose The Right Location

First, choose a location in your garden that receives the appropriate amount of sunlight for the type of flower bulbs you are planting. Most flower bulbs prefer full sun, which is defined as at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. However, some bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips, can tolerate partial shade.

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2. Test And Amend The Soil

Next, test your soil to determine its pH level and nutrient content. You can purchase a soil testing kit from a garden center or send a sample to a professional lab for analysis. Based on the test results, you may need to amend the soil to provide the optimal pH and nutrient balance for your flower bulbs.

To raise the pH level, add lime to the soil. If the pH is too high, add sulfur or aluminum sulfate to lower it. Additionally, you may need to add organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to improve the soil structure and drainage.

3. Remove Weeds And Debris

Clear the planting area of any weeds, rocks, or debris. Weeds can compete with flower bulbs for nutrients and water, so it is essential to remove them before planting.

4. Loosen And Prepare The Soil

Using a garden fork or a tiller, loosen the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches. This will improve the drainage and allow the roots of the flower bulbs to penetrate the soil easily. Break up any large clumps of soil and remove any rocks or roots that may hinder bulb growth.

5. Add Fertilizer

Before planting the flower bulbs, it is beneficial to add a slow-release bulb fertilizer to the soil. This will provide the necessary nutrients for the bulbs to thrive. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended amount and method of application.

Planting Techniques: Step-by-Step Instructions

Now that you have prepared the soil, it’s time to start planting. Follow these step-by-step instructions to ensure successful planting:

1. Check The Bulbs

Inspect the flower bulbs before planting. Look for any signs of damage or disease, as these bulbs are unlikely to grow well. Small cracks or blemishes are acceptable, but avoid planting bulbs that are soft, moldy, or show signs of rot.

2. Dig The Holes

Using a garden trowel or a bulb planter, dig holes for the flower bulbs. The depth and spacing will depend on the type of bulb you are planting, which we will discuss in more detail in the next section.

3. Place The Bulbs

Place the bulbs in the holes with the pointed side facing up. The pointed side is the top, which will produce the stem and flowers. If you are unsure which side is up, look for any markings or remnants of roots, which can help you determine the correct orientation.

4. Backfill The Holes

Gently backfill the holes with soil, ensuring that there are no air pockets around the bulbs. Firm the soil lightly with your hands or by gently pressing down with your foot. Avoid compacting the soil too much, as this can hinder bulb growth.

5. Mulch The Planting Area

To conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and insulate the soil, apply a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or shredded leaves, around the planted bulbs. The mulch should be around 2-3 inches deep, making sure to leave a small space around the emerging shoots.

Planting Depths: How Deep Should Bulbs Be Planted

The depth at which you plant flower bulbs is crucial for their successful growth and development. Here are general guidelines for planting depths based on the bulb’s size:

Small Bulbs (e.g., Crocuses, Snowdrops)

Plant small bulbs 2-3 inches deep. This depth is measured from the top of the bulb to the soil surface. Plant them in clusters or drifts for a more impactful display.

Medium-Sized Bulbs (e.g., Daffodils, Tulips)

Plant medium-sized bulbs 6-8 inches deep. This depth helps anchor the bulbs and provides stability for the tall stalks and flowers. Space the bulbs 4-6 inches apart to allow room for growth.

Large Bulbs (e.g., Alliums, Lilies)

Plant large bulbs 8-10 inches deep. These bulbs need deeper planting to support their vigorous growth and larger root systems. Space the bulbs 8-12 inches apart for ample room.

It is essential to note that some bulbs may have specific planting depth requirements, so always refer to the instructions provided by the bulb supplier for best results.

Watering And Care: Nurturing Newly Planted Bulbs

After planting, it is crucial to provide proper watering and care to help the flower bulbs establish themselves and grow. Here are some essential tips:

1. Watering

After planting, thoroughly water the flower bulbs to settle the soil and remove any air pockets. Use a gentle watering technique to prevent damage to the planted bulbs. Water regularly, especially during dry periods, to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.

2. Fertilizing

Approximately six weeks after planting, when the shoots have emerged, you can apply a balanced liquid fertilizer to provide an additional boost of nutrients. Follow the fertilizer manufacturer’s instructions for proper dilution and application.

3. Mulching

Maintain a layer of mulch around the planted bulbs to regulate soil temperature and moisture levels. Mulch also helps suppress weeds and protect the bulbs from extreme weather conditions. Ensure the mulch is not too thick, as this can prevent the shoots from emerging.

4. Disease And Pest Control

Monitor the planted bulbs for any signs of disease or pest damage. Common pests that may feed on flower bulbs include rodents, slugs, and aphids. Take appropriate measures to control pests and protect your bulbs. If necessary, consult a local garden center for advice on pest control options.

5. Post-Bloom Care

After the flowers have faded, remove the spent blooms to prevent the bulb from expending unnecessary energy on producing seeds. Allow the foliage to die back naturally, as this process helps nourish the bulb for the following year’s growth. Avoid removing or cutting back the foliage until it has turned yellow and withered.

Planting flower bulbs is a fantastic way to add color and beauty to your garden. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can ensure that your flower bulbs receive optimal growing conditions and care. Remember to choose the right location, prepare the soil, plant at the correct depth, provide proper watering and care, and enjoy the stunning blooms that will result from your efforts. Happy planting!

Mulching: Protecting And Insulating Bulbs

Flower bulbs are a great addition to any garden, providing beautiful blooms year after year. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, planting flower bulbs can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. However, it is important to know the proper techniques for planting and caring for flower bulbs to ensure their success.

Mulching is an important step in planting flower bulbs as it helps to protect and insulate the bulbs during the colder months. Here are some tips on mulching your flower bulbs:

  1. Choose the right mulch: Organic mulch such as shredded leaves, straw, or bark chips is ideal for flower bulbs. It helps retain moisture, suppresses weeds, and adds nutrients to the soil as it breaks down over time.

  2. Prepare the soil: Before mulching, ensure that the soil is well-drained and free from weeds. Remove any debris or large rocks that could hinder bulb growth.

  3. Apply the mulch: Spread a layer of mulch around the planted bulbs, leaving a small space around the stem to prevent rotting. The mulch layer should be around 2 to 3 inches thick.

  4. Reapply as needed: Check the mulch layer periodically, and if it becomes thin due to decomposition or erosion, add another layer to maintain the desired thickness.

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Mulching not only protects bulbs from frost and extreme temperature fluctuations but also helps to conserve moisture in the soil, which is crucial for bulb growth and development.

Blooming Season: Managing Flower Bulbs Throughout The Year

To ensure a beautiful display of blooms, it is important to manage your flower bulbs throughout the year. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. Spring blooming bulbs: Bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths typically bloom in spring. Plant them in the fall before the first frost. After they have finished blooming, deadhead the flowers but leave the foliage intact so that it can photosynthesize and build up the bulb’s energy for the following year. Once the foliage turns yellow and dies back, it can be safely removed.

  2. Summer blooming bulbs: Bulbs like lilies, gladioli, and dahlias bloom in the summer. Plant them in the spring after the danger of frost has passed. These bulbs require well-drained soil and benefit from regular watering during dry periods. Deadhead the spent flowers to encourage continuous blooming. In colder climates, dig up and store these bulbs in a cool, dry place over winter.

  3. Fall blooming bulbs: Bulbs such as colchicums and autumn crocuses bloom in the fall. Plant them in late summer or early fall. These bulbs prefer well-drained soil and full sun. After blooming, allow the foliage to wither naturally before removing it.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your flower bulbs are well taken care of and have the best chance of blooming beautifully year after year.

Aftercare: Storing, Dividing, And Replanting Bulbs

After the blooming season, it is important to provide proper aftercare to your flower bulbs. This includes storing, dividing, and replanting bulbs when necessary. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Storing bulbs: For bulbs that need to be overwintered or stored for any reason, such as summer-blooming bulbs in colder climates, dig them up carefully after the foliage has died back. Shake off excess soil and allow them to dry in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. Once dry, remove any remaining foliage and store in a cool, dry place. Some bulbs may require specific storage conditions, so refer to the specific bulb’s instructions for optimal storage.

  2. Dividing bulbs: Some bulbs form clumps over time and may require division to maintain their vigor and ensure proper spacing. Dividing bulbs is typically done when they are dormant. Dig up the clump and carefully separate the bulbs, ensuring that each division has at least one bud or growing point. Replant the divided bulbs at the appropriate depth and spacing, following the planting guidelines provided for each type of bulb.

  3. Replanting bulbs: If you want to move or rearrange your flower bulbs, it is best to wait until they are dormant. Dig up the bulbs carefully, taking care not to damage them. Replant them at the appropriate depth in the new location, ensuring that the soil is well-drained and the bulbs are spaced properly.

Proper aftercare, including storing, dividing, and replanting bulbs, will help to prolong the life and blooming potential of your flower bulbs.

Troubleshooting: Common Problems And Solutions For Growing Flower Bulbs

While flower bulbs are generally low-maintenance plants, they can face some common problems. Here are a few issues you might encounter and some solutions to tackle them:

  1. Stunted growth or no flowers: This could be due to planting the bulbs too shallow or deep. Each type of bulb has specific planting guidelines regarding depth, so make sure to follow them. Additionally, poor soil drainage or lack of sunlight can also cause stunted growth or no blooms. Assess the planting conditions and make necessary adjustments.

  2. Pests and diseases: Bulbs can be susceptible to pests such as aphids, slugs, and bulb mites, which can damage the bulbs or foliage. Disease problems like bulb rot or fungal infections can also occur. Regularly inspect your plants, and if you notice any signs of pests or diseases, take appropriate measures such as using organic pest control methods or applying fungicides.

  3. Poor soil quality: If the soil is lacking in nutrients or is heavy clay, it can affect the growth and development of flower bulbs. Incorporating organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure into the soil before planting can greatly improve its quality, providing essential nutrients and improving drainage.

  4. Improper watering: Overwatering or underwatering bulbs can lead to problems. Bulbs generally prefer well-draining soil and moderate watering. Avoid overwatering, which can cause bulb rot, and ensure the soil is evenly moist but not waterlogged. On the other hand, underwatering can result in poor growth and limited blooms. Adjust your watering practices accordingly.

If you encounter any problems with your flower bulbs, it is important to address them promptly to prevent further damage.

Conclusion

Planting and caring for flower bulbs can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. By following the guidelines mentioned in this article, you can ensure that your flower bulbs thrive and provide beautiful blooms year after year. Remember to choose the right mulch to protect and insulate the bulbs, manage your bulbs throughout the year by deadheading and providing the appropriate care, and address any issues promptly to keep your flower bulbs healthy. With proper planting, aftercare, and troubleshooting, your flower bulbs will add charm and color to your garden for seasons to come.

FAQS

What Are Flower Bulbs?

Flower bulbs are underground plant structures consisting of a modified stem, thickened with stored food for the plant. They contain all the necessary nutrients for the plant to grow and bloom.

When Is The Best Time To Plant Flower Bulbs?

The best time to plant flower bulbs is in the fall, before the first frost. This allows the bulbs to establish roots before the colder winter months. However, some bulbs can also be planted in the spring, when the ground is no longer frozen.

How Do I Choose The Right Location For Planting Flower Bulbs?

Flower bulbs should be planted in well-drained soil with plenty of sunlight. It is important to avoid areas with standing water or heavy shade. It is also recommended to plant bulbs in groups rather than single bulbs to create a more natural look.

How Do I Prepare The Soil For Planting Flower Bulbs?

First, remove any weeds or debris from the planting site. Then, use a garden fork or shovel to loosen the soil to a depth of at least 10 inches. Mix in some compost or bulb fertilizer to provide nutrients and improve drainage.

How Do I Plant Flower Bulbs?

Dig a hole that is two to three times deeper than the height of the bulb. Place the bulbs with the pointed end facing upwards and cover them with soil. It is important to space the bulbs according to the instructions on the packaging. Then water the soil thoroughly to help the bulbs establish roots. Finally, cover the area with a layer of mulch to help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.