Extension Logo
Extension Logo
University of Minnesota Extension

Fall Planted Bulbs for Spring Blooms

When it comes to producing color early in the season, you can't beat spring-flowering perennial bulbs. If cared for properly, they'll come back year after year from a single fall planting, providing many blooms for your investment.

In spring, we all wish we had planted tulips or some of the other spring bulbs to give us that first early color in our yard. Now is the time to act and get them in the ground. Our nurseries have some great selections at this time of year. Select the largest bulbs you can find to give you the largest blooms next spring. Select a garden spot in full sun that has rich, well-drained soil. Plant when the soil temperature has cooled to promote root growth and not top growth, ideally late September – October.  (When is it too late to plant? If you can dig a hole, you can plant a bulb!) Planting depth will vary with the type of bulb being planted, but the general rule of thumb is 2-3 times the height of the bulb. (Look for literature at your nursery for directions on bulb planting.) Plant pointy side UP!! (Harder with corms…look for the rooting structure on the underside of the bulb, this goes down.) Don’t forget to purchase a few extra bulbs to force when the winter winds blow. Nothing is more cheering than tulips and daffodils blooming in the middle of March.

At a loss for what to plant? Why not try:

  • Narcissus (Daffodils): Height: 6-20”, Width: 4-6”, Planting Depth: 5-8”; Bloom Color: White, Pink/Rose, Yellow/Gold, Orange, Bicolor; Landscape Uses: Containers, Beds, Borders; Special Features: Cut-Flowers, Drought Tolerant, Deer Resistant
  • Galanthus (Snow Drops) Height: 4-9”, Width: 2-3”, Planting Depth: 2-3”; Bloom Color: White with Green accents; Landscape Uses: Containers, Beds, Borders, Slopes, Mass Plantings, Woodland, Rock, Meadow Gardens; Special Features: Fragrant, Deer/Rodent Resistant.
  • Tulips Height: 6-30”, Width: To 6”, Planting Depth: 5-8”; Bloom Color: White, Pink/Rose, Blue/Violet/Lavender, Red, Yellow/Gold, Orange, Green, Bicolor; Landscape Uses: Containers, Beds, Borders; Special Features: Fragrant, Cut-Flowers, Drought Tolerant, Deer/Rodent Susceptible

Late September until the ground is ready to freeze is the ideal time to plant garlic. It just needs to establish some roots this fall and will be ready to grow next spring. Fall planting will produce larger bulbs than spring planted cloves. There are two types of garlic, soft neck and hard neck. We grow hard neck garlic in this area, as it will survive better than the soft neck varieties. Garlic grows best on well-drained soils high in organic matter. Sandy loam or loam soils have the most ideal texture for garlic. Prepare a spot in your garden and plant the individual cloves two to three inches deep and about six inches apart. The secret to getting good garlic is to mulch the area where you plant the cloves. Putting 4-6 inches of straw or hay over the row will give it plenty of protection over the winter. It will grow through the mulch next spring, so you do not need to remove it then.  By about August you can dig up some new garlic.

For more information about flowering bulbs and garlic, visit www.extension.umn.edu.

Page survey

© 2023 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.