Understanding bulb planting depths and spacing

In Canada, with all of our different climate zones, it is essential to understand bulb planting depths and spacing for successful gardening. Having this knowledge in your gardening tool kit will ensure that your bulbs thrive and produce beautiful flowers. Not just the climate plays a role in planting bulbs, but also the different types of bulbs have specific requirements, so it's important to follow the guidelines for each variety. We often get asked how deep and how far apart to plant flower bulbs, so we put some guidelines together. 

Here's a general guide to help you understand bulb planting depths and spacing:

Bulb Planting Depth:

The planting depth refers to how deep you should plant the bulb in the soil. Planting depth is crucial because it determines how well the bulb is insulated and protected during various weather conditions (climate zones). A good rule of thumb is to plant bulbs at a depth equal to two to three times the bulb's height. For larger bulbs, you can go a little deeper, while smaller bulbs are planted more shallow. Also, when living in a cold climate, plant your bulbs a little deeper than recommended for extra protection. 

Spacing Between Bulbs:

The spacing between bulbs is equally important, as it allows each bulb to receive enough nutrients, water, and sunlight without competing with others. The recommended spacing varies depending on the type and size of the bulb. Smaller bulbs are typically planted closer together than larger bulbs.

Here are some common bulb types with their general planting depths and spacing:


Plant tulip bulbs 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 centimeters) deep and space them about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) apart.


Daffodil bulbs come in different sizes depending on the varieties so their depth and space varies. Start with 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 centimeters) deep and space them 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) apart but also remember the rule of thumb to plant and space them about 2-3x the size the bulb’s height. 


Plant crocus bulbs 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 centimeters) deep and space them 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 centimeters) apart.


Lilies make stem roots for extra support and nutrients and can be planted a little deeper than other bulbs. This gives them extra support for the top heavy flowers when they are in bloom. A good starting depth for lily bulbs is 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 centimeters) deep and space them 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters) apart.


Plant hyacinth bulbs 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) deep and space them 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) apart.

Before planting, loosen the soil to ensure good drainage for the bulbs. Place the bulbs with their pointed ends facing up. Water the area after planting to settle the soil and remove air pockets and apply mulch to conserve moisture and regulate soil temperature.

In colder climates, plant bulbs deeper to protect them from frost.

Easy guides to follow are the specific instructions that come with our bulb packages. Proper planting depths and spacing will help your bulbs establish strong roots and yield beautiful blooms when the time comes.
By Elke Wehinger


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