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When to Plant Bulbs. List and Calendar of Planting Times


There are basically two planting seasons for the popular garden flowering bulbs, being spring and autumn. Some choice species and alpine bulbs might be planted at different times according to type.

Gnerally, those bulbs that flower in spring – such as crocus, daffodils, fritillaries and hyacinths – are normally planted in the previous autumn – or late summer. The main exception to this being the planting of snowdrops – arguably winter flowering as distinct from spring flowering bulbs.

Bulbs that flower in the summer months – such as lilies, gladioli, ixias, alliums, freesias and Crocosmia – are normally planted in early summer; after the severe frosts have finished. Let’s include the dahlias and begonias for good measure as we have included them in the bulbs section; even though they are tubers rather than actual bulbs.

There is another group of bulbs – so often overlooked yet so important to extend the seasons of interest – being the autumn flowering bulbs. Conveniently, these are normally made available at the correct planting time for bulbs in this group.

Planting Times for Bulbs

There is considerable leeway for planting times of all bulbs, for they have their own food store within. A month either way makes very little difference other than to the actual flowering time or flower size. The exception to this latitude being that summer flowering bulbs should not be planted too early in case of cold or frost damage. Spring flowering bulbs on the other hand, are conveniently harvested, packed and sent to the garden centres at planting time, so not easy to plant too soon!

Our bulb planting time sections are divided into two lists for convenience – alphabetical listing of bulbs with planting times and a monthly calendar for the best time to plant bulbs.

Erythronium golden flowers

Erythronium Pagoda - Early Spring flowering bulb for autumn planting.

Alphabetical List of Bulb Planting Times XX

  • Agapanthus - African Lily - Plant the bulbous crowns in spring, or buy pot-grown flowering plants early summer.
  • Alliums - Onions - The bulb types of allium should be planted in autumn. The rarer rhizome types in spring.
  • Amaryllis - Bella Donna  Plant bulbs in late autumn or spring - cover bulb with shallow layer of soil.
  • Anemones - Most bulbous anemones are planted in autumn, but the 'De Caen' and 'St Brigid' types are best planted in mid spring.
  • Begonia - Tuberous types can be started indoors in early spring to get a good summer start. otherwise plant in late spring after ALL possible frosts have gone.
  • Camassia - Plant in well drained area in autumn.
  • Canna - Indian Shot Plant is normally planted in mid spring - sheltered - and lifted each autumn for winter storage.
  • Crinum Lilies - Plant in spring. Ensure the neck of the bulb is above soil level to avoid rotting.
  • Cardiocrinum - Giant Lily - Best planted in autumn with just a little bit of soil over top of bulb.
  • Chionodoxa - Glory of the Snow is normally planted in autumn and soon grows to justify its common name.
  • Colchicum - Autumn Crocus or Naked Ladies - Normally sold in late summer as large bulbs (corms) sometimes with flower sprouting. Should be planted immediately.
  • Corydalis - Tuberous Corydalis are best planted in autumn in sheltered position.
  • Crocosmia - Montbretia - Best planted as dry bulbs in autumn, but are available as pot grown flowering plants in mid to late summer.
  • Crocus - Normal spring flowering crocus should be planted in autumn as bulbs (corms) but are also available at potted clumps in spring. Plant these after flowering whilst still in leaf. Autumn flowering crocus are planted in late summer
  • Cyclamen Corms - are normally available in late summer and should be planted as soon as possible after that time.
  • Dahlia - The tubers of Dahlias should be planted after frost have finished in spring. Potted plants are available throughout summer - ready to plant for instant gardening.
  • Dierama - The Wand Flower - Plant the corms in the garden in mid to late spring
  • Eranthis - Winter Aconite normally available to be planted in autumn, but also available as pot grown clusters - plant after foliage dies down
  • Fritillaria - Fritillaries - Plant both Large and small types in late summer to autumn.
  • Galanthus - Snowdrops - Normally planted as bulbs in autumn, but possibly better after flowers in spring. See main page as the planting of the snowdrops is the main area of disappointment.
  • Galtonia - Spring is the best time for planting this summer flowering beauty - unless in the mildest of areas, when autumn is a possibility. Best lifted and dried in the autumn toi be planted again in spring.
  • Hyacinthoides - Bluebells - Cultivated bulbs best planted in autumn. Collected Wild bulbs are NO GO!
  • Hyacinth - For garden planting, the bulbs can be planted in autumn. Prepared Hyacinth bulbs for indoor use are available sooner.
  • Iris - Bulbous dwarf iris are normally planted late summer or autumn, whilst the taller rhizomatous types are planted after dividing in late summer.
  • Leucojum - Snowpake - A good competitor for the snowdrops. Leucojum are later flowering than snowdrops – and easier to succeed with planting. Leucojum should be planted in autumn.
  • Muscari - Grape Hyacinth - Group planting for effect in autumn - rather than single plants! After a year or so clumps can be divided and re-planted.
  • Narcissus - Daffodil - When to plant daffodils is one of our most asked questions. Early autumn is best, but if you miss out, then any time before spring sets in. Can also be bought as potted clumps in spring ready for instant gardening - or best after normal dying down of foliage.
  • Ranunculus - are not the easiest of subjects from bulbs (tubers), but autumn is the time for planting, or as pot grown plants in full flower late winter.
  • Schizostylis Kafir Lily Bes planted as growing plants via container specimens in late summer at the garden centre. otherwise as dried plants for spring planting.
  • Scilla - Late summer through early autumn is best - though can always be bought as pot grown clusters in early spring from garden centres. - Plant as soon as finished flowering.
  • Trillium - Normally planted in autumn in richly organic soil - not essential. They are often sold as early flowering potted plants, in which case plant when convenient.
  • Tulip - Plant in late summer through until late autumn. Later planting best as earlier planting can send up early shoots which are susceptible to late frost damage. Often planted the same time as daffodils - which should be planted earlier!

Monthly Calendar of Bulb Planting Times xxx


More Bulb Articles are

When do you plant Allium Bulbs

ornamental Onions - or Alliums

Ornamental Onions - or Alliums

How to Grow Canna Lily Bulbs

Cannas are spectacular garden plants

Cannas are spectacular garden plants

Types of Cardiocrinum

Cardiocrinum trumpet lilies

Cardiocrinum trumpet lilies

How to Grow Chionodoxa Bulbs

The deepest blue is Chionodoxa forbesii

The deepest blue is Chionodoxa forbesii

How to Grow Corydalis

Corydalis flexuosa 'Craighton Blue'

Corydalis flexuosa 'Craighton Blue'

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