9 Signs it’s Time to Plant Spring-flowering Bulbs

Collection of Daffodils, Stamford, CTFiguring out the best time to plant spring-flowering bulbs can be confusing.  Here is southwestern CT,  all the big box store and some of the nurseries have bulbs for sale already.  But it’s way to early to plant them.  It’s going to be 80°today!  When is the ideal time to plant your bulbs?  In a nutshell, the time to plant spring-flowering bulbs is when the ground has cooled down to at least 55°. 

But how do you tell what the soil temperature is, short of going out and buying a soil thermometer?  You certainly can’t rely on the calendar, since Mother Nature can be fickle, especially in the fall in New England.  One day it’s 80° and the next it’s 60°.  What’s an eager gardener to do?  

Here are some other subtle signals, besides the date on the calendar, that will tell you it is time to plant your spring-flowering bulbs:

  • The fall foliage season is past its prime
  • There are more leaves on your lawn than there are on your trees
  • The night-time temperatures consistently stay below 50°
  • You start to use the heat in your car
  • You start to close the windows in your home
  • The squirrels are frantically gathering and burying acorns
  • You begin to smell smoke from the neighbor’s fireplaces
  • The crickets have stopped chirping
  • Your kids no longer argue when you tell them to put on their jackets before they go out to play

Do you have any other signs you use to signal it’s time to plant your spring-flowering bulbs?

14 thoughts on “9 Signs it’s Time to Plant Spring-flowering Bulbs

  1. Oh oh! As I am a weekend gardener, and not every weekend, I plant them when I can, ooops. On Monday, I planted 100 galanthus nivalis that had arrived. Luckily the rest of my bulb order has not come in, so they are safe. Although we have been having fires since Labour day.

    • Sounds like you have at least one of the ‘signs’ so I imagine you’ll be fine. The other issue we have here with planting bulbs now is that the ground is bone dry. No noticable rain for weeks is really taking it’s toll. Hopefully autumn will bring soem rain with it to this part of CT.

  2. Great post! I was wondering about this last night as I was planting bulbs – had I gone ahead too early? But I suspect we’ll have frost in the next few weeks so in they went. Although the crickets are still chirping here I have put the heat on in the truck and we had a fire in the house last weekend so it appears I met some of the conditions!

  3. My pleasure Debbie, It is always nice to ‘meet’ new bloggers and one from New England is ever so nice! I’m originally from Maine and love all of New England and its gardens.

    I’m impressed by your involvement in the Connecticut APLD Chapter. APLD is something I had looked into quite seriously a while back but never pursued it-hence I’m impressed with your get up and go. I know you are a valuable resource to them. And don’t worry about those teens, they’ll pick up a love for gardening even though they won’t let you know!

    • Hi Tina, Wow, gardening in Texas must be so different from what you grew up with in Maine. I’m always fascinated by the plants other TX-bloggers feature, they are so foreign to me. I’d encourage you to get involved in your local APLD chapter – if it’s anything like my expereince here in CT you’ll love it and find it very rewarding. I really enjoy talking with other landscape designers and picking their brains for solutions to design problems, etc. I find my fellow APLD CT members to be very generous with their knowledge and always helpful. All in all, I highly recommend it.

  4. Wrong season in Sydney, but when I thought it was time I bought a mixed bag of bulbs and planted about 50. I got one Jonquil, two daffodils and about five other little purple spikes that I didn’t recognise. Maybe next year.

    I enjoy reading your thoughts.

    • Hi Paul, Isn’t it frustrating when bulbs don’t perform as expected? Any chance they were planted upside down? That’s a more common problem than it might seem but could account for your lack of results. Fingers crossed for you:)

  5. For me the best impetus that it’s time to plant my bulbs is the forecast for snow. I’ve spent many cold cold days frantically planting bulbs before the first snow hits.

  6. LOL. I think it’s been time to plant spring bulbs year-round here in Arcata. What an annoyingly chilly summer we’ve had!!

    This is a great article, I love your use of humor to make it easy to remember when it’s actually the right time. Everyone in a sane climate should take note!

    • Gen, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Sometimes a few ‘unscientific’ signs are just what we need as cues for bulb planting since we can’t always count on the calendar.

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