Many potted bulbs can be saved for reuse, though hybrid tulips will not put on the same quality of repeat show as hyacinth or narcissus. Fall is the optimal time to plant out saved bulbs and get the highest survival rate. Planting them out in spring is worth a try if you have no place for storage or are just eager to get them into the garden. Be sure to choose a location with well-drained soil whether planting in spring or fall.
For spring planting:
If you’d like to try planting your potted bulbs into the garden in spring, do it as soon as the blooms fade and the soil outside is workable.
- Leave all the green leaves and all the potting soil around the roots in place.
- Transplant into a hole in the garden deep enough for the top of the potting soil clump to be level with the garden soil surface.
- Water thoroughly after planting.
For fall planting:
Potted bulbs to be planted in fall still need sun and water, after flowering, to rebuild energy reserves before storage.
- Continue watering the bulbs regularly until the leaves yellow.
- When the leaves are brown and dry, dump the container to retrieve the bulbs and lay them out to dry.
- Once dry, brush off any soil and trim off dead leaves before storing in a cool dry location until fall planting time.
- Plant bulbs with the pointed side up. You will see some shriveled roots on the flatter side.
- The bulbs should be planted at a depth of about three times their diameter.
- Mix some bone meal or superphosphate into the soil at the bottom of the hole at planting time. This encourages strong roots.
- Cover the bulbs with soil. Water after planting, to help them settle, closing any air pockets.
If you’d like to add to your planting and create a spring bulb garden that blooms over a long time, then check out our tips for Planning a Long Blooming Bulb Garden.