November 1, 2022

Planting Bulbs in Fall for Stunning Spring Colour

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Planting Bulbs in Fall for Stunning Spring Colour 

Planting bulbs in fall means gorgeous colours come spring! Perennial bulbs are clever little storage facilities that hold all the nutrients and energy needed to survive winter and pop up once the ground thaws. Plant early bloomers in fall, as they need a dormant period of cooler temperatures before they are ready to grow. 

Plant Bulbs in Fall Before the Snow Flies! 

It’s best to plant spring-blooming bulbs such as daffodils, crocus, and tulips in fall, after a few light touches of frost (in Southern Ontario, that’s usually September/October). 

You want your bulbs in the ground before the snow flies and ground frost sets in. On the flip side, planting too early can promote out-of-season sprouting, which will impact the health of the bulb.  

The Best Bulbs for Fall Planting 


Beautiful balls of colour, these perennialized bulbs come in various purples, pinks, and whites. Two of my favourites are Drumstick and Globe Master. 


These classic beauties are a sure sign of spring! Yellow and orange are the most popular, but you can also find shades of pink, white, and mixed varieties. A  perennial bulb, your daffodils will greet you year after year. 

Fringed Tulips

One of my favourite tulips, the ruffled edges add an interesting texture to your spring garden – they also make excellent cut flowers when you want to bring the colour inside. 


Not as widely known as others on our list, fritillaria are a great addition to your spring garden! With beautiful bell-shaped flowers, fritillaria blooms in early spring.

Grape Hyacinth

With delicate blooms on bright green leaves, grape hyacinth makes a great, low-maintenance ground cover. 


One of the first flowers to greet us in the spring, these beautiful little blooms pop up right after the snow melts. Their nectar-rich centres are a favourite first food for winter-weary bees! 

3 Easy Steps to Planting Bulbs in Fall 

  1. Choose healthy bulbs. Bulbs should be firm and free from damage, rot, scabs, or rotten smells. When choosing your bulbs, remember that not all will overwinter – check packages to see which are perennial varieties. 
  2. Plan your planting. Keep smaller plants closer to the front so they aren’t overshadowed by taller flowers. Consider when your other plants will fill in to maximize space. Tucking bulbs around the base of a hosta works well – the bulbs finish flowering before the hostas grow in. 
  3. Plant your bulbs in nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. Plant according to package directions, paying attention to the suggested depth. Make sure the pointy side faces up; if in doubt, plant sideways! 

Fall Bulb FAQs 

How do I protect my bulbs from squirrels? 

You plant your bulbs looking forward to the spring show, but the squirrels see them as a tasty snack! Plant less appealing varieties if you’re fighting over your bulbs with mother nature’s creatures. Squirrels will stay away from bulbs that are poisonous or smelly. Try daffodils/narcissus, allium and fritillaria. 

If you have your heart set on tulips and croci, try these ideas: 

  • Plant bulbs, add a layer of chicken wire, and cover with soil. The bulbs can grow through, but the squirrels can’t dig down. 
  • Top dress with pelleted chicken manure or bloodmeal – they hate the smell. 
  • If you can’t beat them – keep them busy! Add a squirrel feeder to your property to give them a snack and a place to play. 

And my #1 rule after planting bulbs…clean up any shells. Otherwise, you are leaving a trail of breadcrumbs right to the prize! 

Are there any bulbs I shouldn’t plant in the fall? 

Early spring bloomers should be planted in fall, while summer bloomers (think dahlias, canna lilies or gladiolus) will not overwinter and shouldn’t be in the ground until mid-spring. 

If I buy bulbs in summer, how do I store them until I plant them? 

Store bulbs in a cool, dark space until it’s time to plant; keep them out of the light, keep them dry, and keep them cool. A cold cellar is ideal. 

Planting bulbs in fall ensures you’ll have the first flowers to pop up in spring! Not only are they pretty to see after months of snowfall, but our pollinator friends will thank you for a snack after a long winter. 

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