Flowering Bulbs by Month (Best Months to Plant)

  • By: CarlBroadbent
  • Time to read: 9 min.
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When you plant flowering bulbs, you wait weeks or even months to see them flower.

Bulbs include true bulbs as well as plants that have tubers or tuberous roots.

However, people often want to know when to plant them and which ones they can plant each month.

You can plant different bulbs each month to have a burst of color throughout the year. Spring bulbs are planted in the fall, while summer bulbs are planted in the spring. Some bulbs can be planted later in the winter for a spring bloom. Another factor will be which zone you live in, as the climate plays a role.

Take a look at the following flowering bulbs by month.

1. January

Although you will want to plant most spring-blooming bulbs in the fall, three are a few that you can plant as late as January.

Planting bulbs too early can lead to rot, and on occasion it can make the bulbs think that it is still spring and they need to bloom.

Bulbs that bloom in the spring need the cold temperatures in the ground that cause them to chill before they bloom.

Tulips plant in backyard
Tulips

If you plant them in late fall, they have plenty of time to chill and bloom in the spring. However, you can plant them later in the winter, such as in January, as long as you can dig a hole that is deep enough.

In addition, this allows them to bloom later in the spring. They will grow their roots in the early spring before they bloom.

Another factor to remember is that planting bulbs in late January can lead to bulbs that have smaller blooms.

However, they can be better protected from animals that eat them because the ground freezes more quickly.

There are several ways to improve your bulbs that are planted in January, including the following:

  • Place a plastic covering over them and put them in the refrigerator until they sprout. Then, plant them in late spring.
  • If there is snow on the ground, dig down through it. The ground is typically frozen on the surface but loose below it.
  • Store bulbs in a cool place that is dry until you plant them.

The best bulbs to plant in January:

  • Daffodils
  • Tulips

2. February

Although you normally plant summer-flowering bulbs in the spring, you can actually plant some of them in February.

Make sure that you have light available and the soil should be draining well.

Lilies plant
Lilies

You don’t want to plant them in heavy or wet soil. If your soil is wet and heavy, you can always use pots.

Many of these bulbs need to chill, so make sure that you still have some cold weather when you plant them. If it gets too warm, they might not grow.

They need about six weeks in the cold, and they should be fine in many climates.

Take a look at some of the summer-blooming bulbs that you can plant in February:

  • Lilies
  • Eucomis
  • Liatris
  • Agapanthus
  • Galtonia

You can also plant some spring-blooming bulbs in February.

You may not have a smaller bloom, but they can mix in with your other flowers.

If you haven’t planted these yet, try any of the following for spring bloom:

  • Daffodils
  • Tulips
  • Hyacinth
  • Snowdrop
  • Crocus

3. March

When March comes around, you can finally get outside and enjoy the garden again in many places.

Your daffodils might be starting to bloom, and you can get your garden ready for the summer.

Begonias plant
Begonias

One of the reasons that people love bulbs is that you can have flowers blooming throughout the year.

March is the time to start planting your summer bulbs.

Keep in mind that some of the summer bulbs won’t do well with the weather in early spring, but the following are great options:

  • Lilies
  • Begonias
  • Gladioli
  • Ranunculus
  • Roses

By the end of March, if you are starting to have spring weather, it is time to plant some of your summer bulbs.

Any of those above are great choices in March.

4. April

You will plant your summer bulbs once the danger of a frost has passed.

While your spring-blooming bulbs are bringing life and beauty to your garden, it is time to get your summer bulbs in the ground.

Chinese ground orchids
Chinese ground orchids

Summer bulbs don’t require a lot of maintenance, and you can place them in the garden beds. When they bloom, your garden will be full of color.

You will want to choose bulbs that work in your climate, but the following flowering bulbs are great options to plant in April:

  • Oriental lilies
  • Asiatic lilies
  • Crocosmia
  • Hardy begonia
  • Chinese ground orchids

5. May

You can start some of your summer bulbs in early May.

You can plant them outdoors in the garden at this time of year, but some people start them in a pot to give them a good start.

Caladium plant
Caladium

If you live in a climate where there is still a risk of a frost, you might want to keep them indoors until it passes.

Summer bulbs are more fragile than spring bulbs, so be sure to wait until the ground is warm to plant them outside.

In May, the ground is ready for summer bulbs in a lot of locations.

Plant any of the following in May:

  • Asiatic lily
  • Begonia
  • Caladium
  • Calla lily
  • Canna lily
  • Crocosmia
  • Dahlia
  • Elephant ear
  • Gladiolus
  • Gloriosa lily

6. June

Although some people believe that you can’t plant in your garden after Memorial Day, that is not the case.

You can plant bulbs in June for a late-summer bloom.

Crocosmias plant
Crocosmias

In some regions, the ground warms just before June, and it is still cool at night. You can plant bulbs, but make sure that there is enough time for them to bloom before the first frost.

Try planting the following bulbs in June:

  • Dahlias
  • Gladiolus
  • Canna lilies
  • Begonias
  • Crocosmias

If you live in a cooler climate, June is the perfect time to plant these bulbs.

You should plant them when the ground is around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is colder than that, they don’t do well.

7. July

July is the heart of the summer, and it is time to plant the autumn-blooming bulbs.

It is important to make sure that the bulbs do well in your climate.

Summer Hyacinths plant
Summer Hyacinths

You can look at the type of soil you have and how much sunlight the bulbs need to thrive.

Bulbs that bloom in the autumn and can be planted in July include the following:

  • Autumn crocus
  • Calla lilies
  • Climbing lily
  • Lily of the Nile
  • Rain lilies
  • Summer hyacinths
  • Peacock orchids

You should choose firm, large bulbs and plant them at the correct depth. You usually place them in a hole that is three times as deep as the bulb is tall.

You should also make sure that the pointy side of your bulb faces up.


Works Nice: If you improve the quality of your soil with compost, it will help you get more beautiful blooms. Be sure to water your bulbs after you plant them.


8. August

Some of the most beautiful bulbs are spring bulbs, and they need to be planted before the ground freezes.

Most people say that they should be planted in the fall. They need the cold chilling of the ground over the winter so that they bloom.

Some spring blooming bulbs need the ground temperature to be 40 degrees or less for a minimum of 12 to 14 weeks.

The cold actually stimulates the bulbs so that they know they will form flowers, and it tells them to grow their roots.

Most of the bulbs that bloom in the spring need these cold temperatures so that their roots will develop properly.

Daffodils plant
Daffodils

You can’t plant a lot of bulbs in August because they will start to sprout too early, which will use up energy that they need over the winter.

If you live in the coldest climate zones, you can plant them in August.

The key is that the temperatures are low enough. In warmer climates, you need to hold off, but you can chill them in the refrigerator until later in the autumn.

Although you will want to wait or chill your bulbs in warmer climates, if you live in a cold climate, you can plant the following spring bulb in late August:

  • Daffodils bloom early, and planting them early in a cold climate gives them plenty of time to establish their roots so that they can grow in the spring.

You will want to order your spring bulbs in August so that you have them when it is time to plant them.

People often order their tulip bulbs in August and chill them until they are ready to plant them.

9. September

As long as you live in a cooler climate, you can start planting some of your spring-blooming bulbs in September.

Fritillaria plant
Fritillaria

Having the entire autumn and the winter in the ground allows some of these bulbs to establish a strong, healthy root system so that they can produce a full bloom in the spring.

The best bulbs to plant in September include the following:

  • Daffodils
  • Tulips
  • Fritillaria

These three bulbs bloom the earliest, and they can go in the ground in September as long as you live in a colder climate.

10. October

In October, most people can plant their spring bulbs.

It is cool enough in most climates for the bulbs to be in the ground, and it gives them the time they need to chill and establish their roots before they bloom in spring.

Bluebell plant
Bluebell

You can plant any of the spring bulbs in October.

Some of the most popular include the following:

  • Daffodils
  • Tulips
  • Hyacinth
  • Bluebell
  • Dwarf iris
  • Snowdrop
  • Crocus

11. November

November is also a time to plant your spring-blooming bulbs.

Even if the ground is frozen, only the top layer freezes. You can dig beneath it to plant your bulbs.

Snowdrops plant
Snowdrops

They still have time to chill and then grow their roots before they bloom.

You can plant any of the spring bulbs in November, including those listed below:

  • Daffodils
  • Tulips
  • Hyacinth
  • Dwarf iris
  • Snowdrops
  • Crocus
  • Other spring bulbs

12. December

People often think that December is too late to plant bulbs.

However, this isn’t the case. As long as you haven’t had snow and your first frost isn’t there yet, you can plant your spring bulbs.

Tulips plant
Tulips

You may find that they bloom a little bit later, but there is still plenty of time for them to chill and grow their roots before they bloom.

Some people intentionally stagger their bulb planting so that they have a constant change in their garden. Your bulbs may grow later than those planted earlier in the fall.

You can have great success planting the following in December:

  • Daffodils
  • Tulips

Should You Pre-Chill Your Bulbs?

It is common for people to ask if they should pre-chill their bulbs.

This applies to spring bulbs because they go through a period of cold dormancy before they are able to grow.

People who live in northern climates don’t have to worry about pre-chilling unless they order their bulbs early.

For example, some people order tulips and daffodils in August, and they pre-chill them until they are ready to plant them.

In warmer climates, you may need to pre-chill your spring bulbs to mimic being in the cold ground.

You pre-chill them by storing them in the refrigerator at 40 or 45 degrees Fahrenheit.


Quick Tip: Make sure that they stay in there for the right amount of weeks for the bulb, and then you can plant them in the ground in the spring.


Conclusion

You can plant bulbs every month of the year, or you can choose a few times in the year to do your planting.

Having a combination of bulbs that bloom in the early spring, late spring, early summer, later summer, and autumn will ensure that your garden is colorful and lively all year long.

Spring-blooming bulbs and summer-blooming bulbs are different and have different needs.

The spring bulbs need to be in the ground before the first frost.

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