Gardening Tips: Planning A Fall Planted Bulb Garden In Spring

Bright peach, apricot, pink, and orange spring tulip bulbs

As your spring garden moves into summer, and your flowering bulbs begin to go by, it’s easy to get caught up in the flurry of the summer garden… planting veggies, tending to perennials which are emerging and filling in, and coming home with armloads of annuals (guilty). But, it turns out, that it is the perfect time to start planning a fall planted bulb garden.

Two flowering "Cleopatra" Foxtail lilies in the garden next to a Japanese maple.

I will be the first to admit that this is not how I have always operated. I have definitely waited till the last minute to order and have also left it up to chance and just grabbed what I can find at my local garden centers. But as someone with a particular taste in flowers (and cut flowers) and a set color scheme for my garden, not planning tends to end up in frustration and regret. Leaving me sheepishly thinking, next year!

A stone background with Amazing Parrot Tulips, Sensual Touch Double Fringed Tulips, and Princess Irene Tulips In Apricot, Pink & Orange.

So while you might be thinking it’s so early and that you can do it later, here are the four reasons why you should start planning a fall planted bulb garden now:

1. You know exactly where you need to plant.

One thing that becomes very obvious in the spring as the snow recedes and your bulbs begin to grow, is where they aren’t growing. Whether some of your newly planted bulbs did not come up, your older bulbs have started petering out, or you are changing your design, it is obvious where the holes are in the garden. So before the perennials have fully come in and the annuals, if planted, are just starting out, it is the perfect time to decide where you want to plant and how many bulbs you need for these spots.

Gardening Tip: My neighbor who has bountiful tulip beds, ingeniously places a marker in the ground in the spring where he knows he needs to plant a bulb in the fall. When the perennials are all cut back and it’s time to plant, he knows exactly where to put the bulbs.

2. You know what you are missing from your garden.

In addition to what is missing spatially, you will also know what is missing visually. Whether you need more of certain colors, shapes, sizes… or if you saw a variety in another garden that you have to have, these will all be top of mind now.

Gardening Tip: I made diagrams of the new bulbs that I planted last fall. This was really helpful in seeing how things looked together, to inspire me, and also to remind me what I planted as spring approached. You could also use a Pinterest board to plan. For inspiration here are my Pinterest boards for The Cut Flower Garden, Perennial Flowers, and Landscape Design

This is my moodboard for my new fall planted bulbs for my side garden bed this past season.
This is my moodboard for my new fall planted bulbs for my front garden bed this past season.

3. Many online and catalog bulb suppliers have their fall planted bulbs on sale now.

Perhaps one of the best reasons to order your fall planted bulbs now is the fact that many bulb suppliers have promotions on their bulbs in the summer before the rush of fall orders.

Here is a list of some of my favorite sources:

  1. American Meadows: One of my favorite sources for bulbs online, American Meadows is a Vermont-based company which also has a deep selection of wildflowers, native plants, and pollinators.
  2. Van Bourgondien: This is where I ordered some of my new bulb varieties last year, shown in the diagram above – and in all the images on this page. I can always find some new and unusual varieties here.
  3. Eden Brothers: Eden Brothers has a beautiful collection of varieties, and sophisticated mixes that make coordinating your garden a snap..
  4. White Flower Farm: Another go-to source for fine gardening, White Flower Farm always has a well-curated selection, and if you are ever nearby, their gardens are divine. I remember visiting when I was little – a testament to how long they have been a gardening resource.

4. When preordering now, fall planted bulbs are less likely to be out of stock.

There is nothing worse than planning and picking out your fall bulbs only to find that they are sold out when you finally go to place your order. It’s a disappointment that follows you from the fall, when you can’t order them, to the spring, when they are still missing from the garden.

So take a tip from me and think about planning your fall bulbs now… it can save you time, money, and confusion later on. Here is a look below at how this past season’s tulips (some of my new loves) came together.

Mixed Tulip Bouquet With Amazing Parrot Tulips, Sensual Touch Double Fringed Tulips, and Princess Irene Tulips In Apricot, Pink & Orange By A Cultivated Living

“Princess Irene” Tulip, “Amazing“ Parrot Tulip, “Sensual Touch” Fringed Double Tulip

If you have any questions on planning your fall planted bulb garden please ask me below. I’d love to help! What are your favorite fall bulbs? Do you have a favorite variety or something new you are trying?

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