Planting Spring Bulbs

Spring bulbs
Spring bulbs bring loads of colour to your pots and flowerbeds in spring and summer, and can be stored and re-planted from year to year, making them a very economical choice. In our Zone (Zone 3), most will benefit from being started early indoors.

Starting Indoors

Most bulbs can be started anywhere from mid-march to late April. Choose a pot with drainage; 4” pots will suffice for ranunculus, gladiolus and anemone while 6” pots are suitable for dahlia, calla and canna. Fill with a well drained indoor potting mix and follow package directions for planting depth. When foliage emerges, place in a sunny window or under grow lights until planting outdoors in June. Bulbs can be watered with a 50% strength all purpose fertilizer once every couple weeks.

Planting Directly Outdoors

In our area, it is suggested we start most bulbs indoors. Though spring bulbs can be planted directly outdoors in early June, you will experience later blooms than if started earlier indoors. If planting directly into the garden, dig your planting hole, add a handful of bonemeal and place bulbs into hole. Each bulb package will list planting depth. If your soil is heavy, be sure to amend prior to planting with compost or peat moss.

Bulbs to Try



Starting your own begonias is a great way to ensure a bounty of blooms for the shady spots in your yard. Start your begonias indoors 10-12 weeks prior to planting out – this ensures plants are large enough to plant out once frost has passed.
Stuttgart Canna


Huge paddle shaped leaves in various colour patterns grow anywhere from 2-6 feet tall in a season. In mid to late summer tropical coloured blooms are a bonus. As Canna require warm temperatures for healthy growth, starting them indoors will provide the best success.


Old fashioned flowers in an amazing array of styles and colours, from dinnerplate to pom pom to cactus. Dahlia can take some time to establish and set their flower buds, so by starting your dahlias early, you will ensure you can enjoy the blooms in mid-late summer, at the height of the garden season.


A classic summer bulb known for its tall flower spikes. Available in an incredible range of colours including red, orange, yellow, pink, burgundy…even lime green! Excellent cutting flowers, gladioli look spectacular in summer bouquets. These can be planted directly into ground in spring, but starting 4 weeks earlier indoors will bring earlier blooms.


Asiatic, Oriental and Tiger lilies are hardy choices for your perennial border, and unlike most spring bulbs will not require lifting in the fall. You can start lilies early indoors (no longer than 6 weeks early), or plant directly into your garden once weather permits.

Storing Bulbs

When autumn arrives, bulbs can be lifted from the ground or their pots and stored indoors. If storing bulbs, allow a frost to kill the foliage, remove from the ground or their pots and allow bulbs to dry for 3-4 days. Pull away dried up foliage, and lightly brush away all the dirt from bulbs. Place bulbs in slightly dampened peat moss in a cardboard box (or brown paper bags) and store in a dark cool place (a basement or slightly heated garage). The optimum storage temperature is between 5-10 degrees Celsius.