I have in mind to plant bulbs for various flowers, for next year. (Specifically, I'm thinking about crocuses and tulips.)

I know that the recommend planting months for these are in the autumn, but will anything bad happen if I were to buy and plant the bulbs now?

I'm worried that I'll forget / not have time, in the autumn. So if I were to do it now ... would they just sit and wait for next year, or would planting the bulbs now ... break things?


2 Answers 2


Your profile says you are in London. I would be surprised you can actually buy spring flowering bulbs now from a reputable supplier. You can certainly pre-order them now in the UK (and that might be advisable for unusual varieties where demand exceeds supply) but they will not be delivered until autumn.

They should be planted when night-time temperatures are below 10C but the ground is not frozen. In the UK that gives a long "planting window," i.e. any time in October, November, and December. They will then stay dormant until the soil starts to warm up in spring.

  • I often see leftover spring bulbs on clearance sale at this time of year, at least in the US. If you get them at an extremely good price I figure it's worth a gamble, but I wouldn't pay full price to plant bulbs outside the normal bulb-planting season.
    – csk
    Commented May 28, 2021 at 21:04
  • @csk I guess it depends how they have been stored, and/or the climate in your part of the US. In my experience, if bulbs are not planted they will start to sprout in their "normal" growing season and then die. At least in the UK bulbs that were planted are still rebuilding their energy resources for next year, unless you cut off the leaves before they die back naturally. Also most bulbs sold in the UK are imported from commercial growers in Holland, not grown locally
    – alephzero
    Commented May 29, 2021 at 1:48
  • 1
    If the bulbs in the store are squishy or dried out, then they're dead - they're most likely to be leftovers from last fall, so they'll fail if you plant them now.
    – Jurp
    Commented May 29, 2021 at 2:31

After thoroughly questioning someone who grows a lot of bulbs in USDA hardiness zone 6 (including lots of tulips and some crocuses, among other types), here is my analysis:

Some of them will probably live and some will probably die. They have a much higher chance of surviving if they're transplants from your own garden than if you bought them from a store. However, planting them in the fall is by far the better option.

My own thought is if they've already bloomed and the tops died, this year, transplanting them now for next year would likely be more successful. If they haven't, yet, they might try to grow, and that might exhaust them. That's just a hypothesis.

I suppose you already have the knowledge resources required for fall planting, and earlier spring planting, as well as information about how to store your bulbs, etc.

  • My own experience is that any transplants from your own yard - as long as they're done blooming - will work just fine and bloom next year (you must either transplant them in leaf or as the leaves die in order to get blooms). I've had great success doing this with daffodils and grape hyacinth. I've also had very good luck transplanting forced bulbs into my garden. I would not buy bulbs from a store at this time of year.
    – Jurp
    Commented May 29, 2021 at 2:33
  • 1
    A good time to move bulbs that have already been planted is when the leaves are dying. The reason is simply because it's easier to dig up all the bulbs when you can you can still see exactly where they were growing. If you replant them immediately, this is no different from leaving them in the ground all year round, and of course that is how they would grow naturally.
    – alephzero
    Commented May 29, 2021 at 12:25

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