How Deep to Plant Bulbs

Secrets to Planting Bulbs in Your Garden

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When it is time to plant bulbs, there are several things you can do to ensure they are inserted into the ground correctly. Knowing how deep to plant bulbs and prepare the ground are important.

Before you plant bulbs, read the instructions that come with them. It will give you customized information on how best to plant the individual bulb.

Next, remove any weeds, rocks or other debris from the area. You may want to rake the soil and mix in compost, other organic matter or slow-releasing fertilizer if your soil lacks nutrients.

Being sure that your spring flowering bulbs are planted at the correct depth is important for overall plant health, as well as ensuring that the bulb will bloom. Different types of flowering bulbs need to be planted at different depths, but a good general rule of thumb is to plant the bulb at three times the height of the bulb. So, for example, if your bulb is two inches tall, you'd plant it six inches deep.

Another general rule is that the best depth to plant large bulbs is about 8-inches deep. Smaller bulbs should go about 5 inches underground.

How Deep Should Bulbs Be Planted?

Here is a list of recommended bulb planting depths based on plant type:

  • Alliums: 8 inches
  • Crocus: 3 inches
  • Daffodil: 6 inches
  • Hyacinth: 7 inches
  • Muscari (Grape Hyacinth): 3 inches
  • Siberian Squill (Scilla): 3 inches
  • Snowdrop: 3 inches
  • Tulips: 6 inches

More Tips on Planting Bulbs

Ready to plant bulbs that will stand the test of time? Follow these tips:

  • Where you plant bulbs is equally as important as how deep they are planted. Most bulbs do best when they are planted in an area that gets full sun--at least six hours of it daily--and they are in well-drained soil.
  • Which side of the bulb should go up? The pointy side, as a general rule of thumb.
  • Top the area where you plant the bulb with 2 to 3 inches of mulch, which can help to prevent weeds.
  • Don't forget to water the bulbs. It will help them get off to the best start possible and develop properly.
  • If the bulbs are at risk for being disrupted or eaten by critters, you may want to put some chicken wire on top of the ground and weigh it down. You can remove it once the bulb begins to sprout. 
  • Bulbs can be planted in containers as well as the ground. Try them in a container, just make sure it has the appropriate diameter based on the bulb-growing instructions.
  • You can layer bulbs to create more color and dimension in your garden. For a distinctive look, plant smaller perennials such as crocus or scilla over the larger bulbs such as daffodils, lilies and tulips.