BulbsPre-planting, Planting & Caring For

Pre-planting bulbs

Choose a site to provide your Iris with good drainage, planting either on a slope or in raised beds.

Where to plant

Iris need at least a half day of sun. In extremely hot climates some shade is beneficial, but in most climates Iris do best in full sun. Choose a site to provide your Iris with good drainage; plant either on a slope or in raised beds.

Bulb planting

Make sure that the area to be planted is well drained. Bulbous stems and roots that are kept too moist tend to rot. Bulbous plants will do well in almost any part of the yard and are not restricted to flower beds. They can also be successfully planted in lawns or in some cases under trees.

Plant bulbous stems and roots according to the planting directions provided with the plant. In general, plant at a depth of three times the maximum diameter of the stem or root. Use a garden trowel or a bulb planter which removes plugs of soil for easier planting. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of bone meal into the bottom of the hole and coat the stem and/or root with bulb dust to prevent fungus and place in hole. Fill in hole and water in well. Irises are planted with the top of the rhizome at ground level.

When planting bulbs here it's a great idea to use a bulb planter. It seems like a silly little thing, but they are very handy especially when planting larger amounts of bulbs. The tool has markings on it so you know the depth they are reaching and its concave shape holds the soil in so you can just drop your bulbs and fertilizer in and then squeeze the handle to release the soil on top. They make them for a reason and they are cheap enough, so if you're gonna dig in some bulbs make it's a little easier on yourself by using a bulb planter. We have many on hand.

Good Combinations

Best results are obtained by taking into consideration heights, colour combinations and flowering periods. It is preferable to plant the bulbs in small groups but to avoid circles or squares, to obtain as natural an effect as possible. Gardens may be provided with long periods of colour by planting different bulbs together which have varying flowering times. Examples to try are combinations of low-growing Crocuses with late flowering Tulips, Scilla with early flowering Tulips, or Daffodils with Darwin Tulips. Let's be clear though, it's your garden and sometimes mass planting is just the thing for an early jolt of colour. Your garden is your palette, just have fun and don't be afraid to break some rules… that is if you believe there are any.


Many spring bulbs are ideally suited for naturalizing, and they provide the garden with a "natural" look when planted in the grass, around trees or under shrubs. Low-growing Daffodils, Crocuses, Snowdrops, and Scillas are very suitable for naturalizing. Taller-growing bulbous plants such as Trumpet Daffodils can best be combined with others. When planting near trees or among rocks, always use at least six bulbs. If planting bulbs in grass, consideration should be given to the fact that mowing should not be done until the flowers and leaves have withered.

Among ground covers

Flower bulbs are well suited for planting among ground covers. The roots of flower bulbs sit deeper and therefore don't rob the ground cover of food. Moreover, once the flowers have finished blooming, the ground cover ensures an attractive garden.


By leaving the flower bulbs in the ground after they blossom, most spring bulbs will bloom again the following year.

It is important to cut the flowers off after they have finished blooming, but leave as many leaves as possible on the stem. Cease watering after flowering is finished to allow the leaves to dry out and die naturally. The plant will receive sufficient storage food to recharge the bulb underground. It will then bloom again the following spring.

Planting fall bulbs is super rewarding in the spring when the first shoots begin to emerge from the soil you know spring is on its way and you'll be the first to enjoy the blaze of colour bulbs can provide after winter has moved along. Don't forget to use a good fertilizer when planting your bulbs use a bone meal, bulb fertilizer, or Myke. Old school bulb planters will often use bulb dust to help keep bulbs from rotting. This product is no longer made, so it's important to use fertilizer to get them going as naturally as you can.

Fall Bulb Planting

Arrange bulbs in groups, or naturalize them by scattering the bulbous stems and roots randomly on the ground and planting them where they land.

The best time to plant is in early to mid-September. You can wait a little later to put them in, but remember they need from six to eight weeks to establish enough root system before the ground freezes to survive the winter.

Before you begin, you have to ensure your planting site has the right soil conditions. Bulbs like rich well-drained soil. Heavy clay soils are too wet and need to be amended with compost and /or peat moss. Choose a sunny location but avoid areas such as near a south-facing foundation. This spot would get too warm during one of Calgary's Chinooks. The thawed soil will trick the bulb into sprouting, and then death would occur when another hard frost hits.

Plant bulbs nose end up to a depth of at least three times the bulb height. A little deeper is recommended for Calgary as Chinooks often thaw the topsoil. Sprinkle each bulb with bulb dust to prevent pest and disease damage. Cover the bulb with soil and use bone meal as a good slow-release fertilizer. Don't be afraid to try Myke. Once it is in the soil, it is protected from the elements and is an excellent root starter.

Water the bulbs after planting and continue into the fall if there is no natural moisture. Mark the spot where they are and mulch to a thickness of about three inches to be extra safe. This helps keep the soil from thawing during warm spells in the winter.

Plant bulbs in groups for best colour effect in the spring. Avoid planting sparsely with a bulb or two here and there. Experiment with a good selection of bulbs as varieties differ according to height, colour, and flowering times. This information is on the packaging and will help you plan your spring garden. Choose varieties with different flowering times to assure continuous colour all spring.