Planting Bulbs in the Spring?*


It is the end of March 2017 and I live in Owen Sound, about 2 1/2 hours North of Toronto and can’t find an answer anywhere for whether or not I can plant bulbs in the Spring? If I can….then what bulbs can I plant? When should I plant them? When can I expect flowers? Do I need to do anything special to the bulbs before planting? I’ve read about pre-chilling tulip bulbs for 2 months before planting so if that is true I think I am too late for tulips. Please advise me on this.
What I would really like is a list of bulbs that I can plant in the spring and any special instructions or a link that will give me this information.
I have cleared my garden beds last fall at my new house and am looking for a fresh start. Or should I wait and work on the soil this summer and plant in the fall?
Thanks for your help…..I am new at all of this for flowers as I have always been a vegetable garden growing guy but at our new house we have some perfect beds for flowers.
Thanks again,



Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.

How exciting to have new garden beds to design. I can understand your excitement to have flowering bulbs this spring. Unfortunately, for this year it is too late.

Many plants, especially bulbs, require a long period of deep cold before they can flower in the spring. This process is called vernalization and is true for many other groups of plants. Many tree seeds also often require vernalization before they can germinate. This system protects the new plant and ensures they only germinate or flower under optimal conditions.

When you see flowering tulips in the store they have artificially created the correct conditions for vernalization and blooming. You could purchase some of these and put the pot into the ground for this spring. You can try saving these bulbs for next fall though the yield from forced bulbs is not always reliable.

There are some summer blooming bulbs that are planted in the spring. Examples would be Lilies and Gladiolas. They bloom well after the tulip season. In the links below you will find a site that lists bulbs and corms and when they are planted. For those that are for zones warmer than Owen Sound (often zone 5 but can be lower in exposed areas) you will need to lift the bulbs out of the garden during the winter then replant in the spring.

The positive angle to being too late for spring bulbs is you can plan your garden and plant perennials and other plants this spring. When you plant your bulbs in the fall you will be better able to see which locations make the most sense with your garden design.  Be sure to pick bulbs with different blooming times so you can make the most of the season.

Toronto Master Gardeners has 2 Gardening Guides that may be of interest.

Bulbs for Naturalizing: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide

Growing Tulips: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide

This post from Landscape OntarioBulb Planting Tips and Tricks  also provides some good information on planting bulbs.