Ready to have a yard that welcomes spring with a burst of colors?

Bulbs in Bin Copyright KUED

Bulbs waiting to be planted at Ashton Gardens.

Fall Bulb Planting Guide

Tulips are a popular pick for spring-blooming perennials, with many varieties to choose from. Bulb planting is easier than you think! Simply, dig a hole and drop them in.

In addition to being a beautiful display in your yard year after year, blooming perennials are so easy to plant and maintain.

Deer love to eat tulips, so if you live in an area with deer problems you should avoid planting them.  They don’t like daffodils or hyacinth so those are some options instead of tulips.

It’s important to note, Tulips tend to lose size every year so it’s possible you may have to replenish your bulbs after a few years.

Here in Utah, October is the best time to plant but, if you’re concerned it’s too late to plant for your yard— don’t worry. There's still a chance.

I’ve planted bulbs as late as January and they’ve done just fine. However, it was very difficult working with frozen soil.
-Tony Latimer, head gardener at Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point

It’s best to have the bulbs in the ground 5 weeks before a hard, ground-freezing frost.

We will show you how to beautify your yard with just a few simple steps.

1) Buying your bulbs

Begin by choosing which tulips you’d like to buy. You can buy from your local garden center or nursery, or online. Bulbs are also available at Ashton Gardens. They sell used bulbs from the festival every spring, which they sell for $3.75 a dozen.

It’s recommended to store them in a cool dry location until it’s time to plant in the fall. Stores typically don’t bring in tulips until late summer or fall when it’s closer to planting time.

Pro Tip: Store bulbs in a cool, dry place until ready for planting. Scratches, dents or other imperfections are no problem. However, it is best to avoid planting moldy or especially soft bulbs.

2) Preparing your yard

Once you have your bulbs, decide where in your yard you want to plant. Tulips like part to full sun locations.  Some locations that you may consider shade areas may actually be quite sunny in the early spring since the tulips do most of their growth before the deciduous trees leaf out.

Make sure your soil is loose and has good drainage. Ashton Gardens tills their soil to incorporate compost and loosen the soil for easier planting.

Pro Tip:  You can mix a natural fertilizer or compost into the soil for happier, healthier blooms come spring.

3) Planting your bulbs

Standard tulip bulbs should be planted 4 to 6 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart, pointy side (known as the “nose”) up and roots facing downward.

You can plant around bases of trees, cluster them between shrubberies, scatter them throughout beds, or place around borders. Really, anywhere you want a splash of color.

At this point, it's a good idea to mulch your flower beds by covering them with straw, leaves, or another form of foliage. This helps protect the soil from the harsh winter elements. Now, just let the little bulbs do their thing.

Each bulb is packed with nutrients, which they will patiently store while lying dormant throughout the cold winter. When the weather begins to warm and spring rain showers begin, they’ll spring into life, transforming your yard into a cheery spectacle for all to enjoy.

Bulbs being placed before being put into the ground, 4-6 inches apart. 

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Alaynia Winter

KUED Production Intern

Alaynia Winter earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from University of Utah. A member of student media in college, she wrote for Wasatch Magazine, University of Utah's outdoor lifestyle magazine. When not gardening, Alaynia spends time with her very spoiled dog.Read more

Tony Latimer

Tony Latimer copyright KUED
Head Horticulturist, Ashton Gardens.

Tony Latimer is the head horticulturist for Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point. With his years of experience in gardening, he’s a great resource for information and tips if you happen to catch him working in the various gardens at Ashton Gardens.Read more