Planning for Fall Bulb Planting

Gardeners split time between taking care of the now, and planning for weeks, days and months in the future. October is one of the times we are busy working in the now with seasonal cut backs and clean ups while working for the garden 6 months from now with bulbs.


I have two bulb planting strategies: collected/accidental and methodical/designed. The collected/accidental results in me adding and adding every year new varieties in unplanned quantities. Mostly I do this with Daffodils, Eranthis, Galanthus planting within wood lines and expanding on existing naturalized drifts. I don’t focus on plant height since mostly these are the only plant above ground level so they don’t have to compete within in existing foliage. Also, very few other plants are in bloom during this time I am willing to diversify more with bloom colors.

I have two bulb planting strategies: collected/accidental and methodical/designed.


For methodical and design plantings, I do inside perennial beds and for bulbs that will be blooming with other later spring and early summer perennials. This is when you have to think about plant height (ensure not crowded out) and bloom color coordination. This method is a bit trickier in selecting bulbs, bed placement and planting compared to the more organic method, but with some planning can make an existing perennial bed feel renewed.

Planning for Fall Bulb Planting - Thinking Outside the boxwood

Since I feel like my personal garden has been stagnant this summer, I decided to add a bulb layer to my front bed to give it more depth seasonally. I am going to share the process in three posts, first the planning and selecting the bulbs (this post) and a second later this fall when I am planting. Finally I will share the bulbs as the bloom this spring into summer.  See what I mean, gardening is always about working in the now for something to pay off months down the road.


Look at the garden across bloom times.

My front bed changes drastically from early March to June. I leave up all the perennial foliage during the winter and do a drastic cut back in early spring. This is also when I can top dress the compost/mulch layer. So early spring is the best time for low growing bulbs. Since I don’t have any blooms during this time period, I don’t have any restraints on colors I can use.

As the seasons progress and my perennials start to push from their spring cut back, low growing bulbs will start to be hidden in the foliage. For later spring to early summer bulbs, I need to select taller varieties. This also means the foliage from the first phase of bulbs are starting to be covered and I don’t have to worry about foliage as it dies back. For bloom / foliage color, my existing color palate of white flowers and focus on textural foliage means bright colored bulbs will conflict with the design, so I need to be much more confined by the blooms I will include further into the season.

Planning for Fall planting bulbs - Look at the site requirements over the bloom period - Thinking Outside the boxwood

A good way to think through this is look back at photos from March, April, May and June of your garden and see how everything looks and where you have open areas in the garden. Here is my front garden from March, May and June. (Bonus you can see the front walkway I put in this year).



Selecting Bulbs knowing your constraints.

Now that I had identified my constraints within the existing garden, I could start shopping for bulbs. I am not a bulb shopping snob and with everything in gardening, bulb shopping is a  high/low price balance.  I have purchased bulbs everywhere from the grocery store to an obscure retailer I learned about from a friend of a friend. Often when it is a specific bulb am looking for, it is a rabbit hole of an internet search or a moment I cannot believe my luck a nursery had it stock.  Here are some online resources, but check out your local nurseries too:


I do believe in buying in a quantity that makes a statement – that means purchasing in the 50s to 100s + for perennial beds depending on size. With the collected/accidental planting it is easier to add to over time compared to a planned designed area, so investing in bulb quantities is easier upfront. If you are planning to add overtime, I would suggest taking photos of the bulbs in bloom so you know what areas you want to add more the next year.

How to select spring and early summer flowering bulbs for bloom sequence and height within exisiting perennial garden - Thinking Outside the boxwood

For my front bed I selected bulbs that bloom from early spring to early summer. Past early summer my perennials are full and additional interest/color/texture are not needed and would make less impact. I would rather focus my time and funds in the early season. I also selected bulbs that are deer and (as much as possible) chipmunk proof since we have a chipmunk infestation.


Here are the bulbs I selected for the garden and the quantities I plan to plant as a reference for volume to make an impact. I am planting these across the entire front portion of our house.



Waiting to plant.

The bulbs arrived a few weeks ago and have gone into cool storage (in an air-conditioned room at the shop, nothing fancy) until it is time to plant.  Here in Ohio, it is late October into November when we plant bulbs for clients. You want to make sure the ground temperature is not warmer than 60 degrees.  If you plant too early there are fungal / bacterial diseases that can set in and rot the bulbs. Between now and then I am keeping busy working on other areas in the garden, mainly managing the leaves and wrapping up projects I started in the spring and never completed.  I will share the planting process around the end of October or early November depending on the ground temperature. If you have any questions, please ask. I can either answer them now or will ensure it is a detail I show more deeply in the next post.



Last but not least, I am doing my very first giveaway!  The prize includes 150 fall planted bulbs to add to your garden. The package includes: 50 Tulip Passion Play, 50 Allium Purple Rain and 50 Fritilaria bulbs, all in my preferred purple palate. These bulbs will bloom from mid-spring to early summer.

Leave a comment on this blog post between October 8, 2021 and October 14, 2021 (11:59 PM EST). Be sure to leave your email address in the form for me to contact you and ship out your bulbs.  Winner is limited to residents of the United States. I will announce the winner very soon after October 14 so you can get your bulbs in time for planting.

This post was sponsored by 

This post is sponsored by



36 thoughts on “Planning for Fall Bulb Planting

  1. I’m having a chipmunk problem too. Are your personal choices good ones to prevent the little critters from damaging the plantings?

  2. Great article! On my way to by some bulbs myself now! Hopefully I’ll get a couple extra with this entry ; )

    Green Daffodil looks incredible!

  3. I would love to be considered for the bulbs! My new house is bare and your garden beds are my inspiration! Found you on Instagram when searching for local Gahanna gardeners to see what plantings work best for the area. 🙂

  4. Do you have any suggestions for planting bulbs in a bed that is irrigated with drip? I’ve been toying with the idea of setting an emitter over a clump of bulbs but also occasionally watering the area with the hose. (We’re very arid so can’t count on rainfall).

  5. I have 36 winter aconite bulbs staring at me everyday- trying my best to hold off planting them until later in the month.

  6. Thanks so much for your informative article. Your gardens are beautiful! This year I am trying Species Tulips which are supposed to be deer resistant – fingers crossed.

  7. Because we moved around a lot, I never saw my flowers or gardens grow beyond a year or two. I’ve enjoyed your articles and the information you give.

  8. leaving a comment to enter the bulb give away. i think this is the place you indicated to leave a comment. i garden for several houses and have my own and follow hoards of designers on instagram…. your design and property are by far my favorite and the style i aspire for in mine. i’d also like to win some free bulbs. :).

  9. I just placed an order for Narcissus ‘Polar Hunter’ myself! I am adding a bulb layer to my roof garden this year as an experiment – next spring will be exciting to see what does well and what doesn’t. Maybe I’ll be adding some more purple with this giveaway! Cheers!

  10. Ohio native now living in Missouri, I love watching your garden transform. I love the limited color palette and your emphasis on silver foliage. Looking forward to your bulb planting!

  11. First of fall. Thank you for the awesome post. And second, I looooove your style so I can’t wait to put in practice the tips/ideas you had. I’m dying to get the third round of bulbs I secretly bought last week. I just can’t have enough 💕

  12. I never win anything but I always have hope… I only have daffodils, allium, and tulip bulbs and would love to win any other bulbs!

  13. We are completely redoing our front beds this year so have been just adding through the growing season. These bulbs would make a great edition!

  14. I too battle with chipmunks (and voles!). This year I’m planting tulips in my veggie raised bed (they’re lined with hardware cloth) for cutting. I stick to daffodils (love doubles!) and allium in the ground.

  15. I’m looking to create a new drift of Narcissus and would want to add to it as time goes on, but I want it to be impactful from the beginning. What’s the minimum density you’d recommend so it doesn’t look too sparse year one?

  16. I appreciate you sharing when is the best time to plant bulbs in Ohio. I have been intimidated to try adding bulbs to my current landscape because I’ve not had good luck with anything but daffodils at our previous homes and they took over. I would love to try it at this new place, especially the variety listed.

    I always look forward to seeing your photos on IG. You have a great eye for design and I like how you mix both texture and color.

  17. I would love some new bulbs to add to my new garden! What an exciting time. Really have been enjoy seeing photos of your gardens on Instagram. Thanks.

    • NICK•
      Absolutely LOVE your garden design aesthetic!!! 🌷🌲🌻🌳🪴🌷
      Need you to come to Akron/ Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens to talk to the Garden club ladies again. They were in awe of your inspiring talent!!!

  18. I don’t think I’ve ever read anywhere about waiting for the ground temperature to drop below 60. Usually it’s not an issue as we usually are getting light frosts at this time, but it’s been so warm this fall– no wonder the drumstick allium I planted are coming up. Whoops. At least the weather should work in the favor of the fall blooming crocus I planted.

  19. Beautiful! Wow this would be such a nice spring addition to my garden! Would love to see more bulbs popping up in the spring. Makes winter a little shorter (at least in my mind) 🙂

  20. Thank you for all the great tips and ideas on fall bulb planting. I absolutely adore your style and esthetic. We certainly do have a lot of chipmunks and other wildlife in the garden. I learn to live with them rather than treat them as pests. I call them “the digging squad”! Getting ready to add more daffodils, fritillaries and camassias this year …

  21. Love your choice of bulbs, especially green daffodil. You are such a talented gardener! Please keep the blog posts coming!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *