Spring-flowering bulbs have been on garden center shelves for weeks but the real season for planting them runs from late October to December.
It’s best to wait to plant daffodil, tulip, hyacinth, Dutch iris, etc. until night temperatures are consistently below 60 degrees. At that time the soil is warm enough to stimulate root growth but you won’t get much foliage growth. Temperatures above 70 degrees F. may damage the flower buds. In areas of the state with extremely mild winter climates, it may be desirable to pre-cool some bulbs. Most spring-flowering bulbs require a 12-16 week cold period in ventilated packages in the bottom of your refrigerator at 40-50 degrees F. before planting. Check with your bulb supplier to determine whether the bulbs you purchase have been pre-cooled or whether you may need to give them a cold treatment. You can successfully plant them as late as December but the later you wait after October the less able the bulbs will be to establish themselves.
A general rule of thumb for planting depth (from top to bulb to soil surface) is two to three times the greatest diameter for bulbs 2 inches or more in diameter and three to four times the greatest diameter for smaller bulbs. Plant the bulbs upright (rhizomes and tuberous roots are usually planted on their sides), and press the soil firmly around them. Water the beds thoroughly to help settle the soil.
There are two critical times to feed your bulbs. They need nutrients in the fall when they are planted and they need more in the spring when they have leaves. For every ten square feet of bed, sprinkle two cups of 10-10-10 fertilizer over the soil and dig it in as you prepare an area for planting. Use the same amount next March when the leaves emerge.
Special bulb fertilizers are available which do not force unneeded growth in fall but which give bulbs the nutrients they need.
For more information on planting bulbs, refer to the publication: Flowering Bulbs for Georgia Gardens.