How to Plant Spring Bulbs in January

Updated February 21, 2017

Planting flowers for the spring season requires early planning. If you would like to have a beautiful garden in the later spring months of April and May, you might consider planting bulbs in January. Doing so will allow an explosion of colour to fill your garden, creating an oasis for many to enjoy.

Depending on your region, temperatures may be too cold to plant your bulbs outside. If this is the case, you will need to plant your bulbs indoors, inside of a pot with proper drainage holes. This is a process known as "forcing."

Soak a clay pot in water for 12 hours, to prevent it from dehydrating the bulbs.

Fill your pot halfway with soilless potting mix, such as a peat moss-based mixture, which will allow proper drainage during winter months. Place a layer of bulbs over the soil close to each other, without letting them touch. Place the bulbs with the smooth surface pointed up toward the outside of the pot, which will prevent water from entering the top of bulb, damaging it.

Cover your bulbs with more soilless mixture, filling just below the rim of the container. Avoid packing the mixture, so the roots have room to grow and establish. Soak your potted bulbs with a watering can after planting, and continue to water them two to three times a week, to aid the growth of the roots.

Place the potted bulbs in a cool, dry and dark place between 7.22 and 10 degrees Celsius in your home. This will create a "chilling period," allowing roots to form and establish. Avoid allowing your bulbs to freeze, as this will cause them to die. If you do not have such a dark space in the house, cover your pots with a cardboard box or paper bag.

Inspect your potted bulbs for sprouts. Depending on the bulbs, leaves may begin to sprout 10 to 12 weeks after the bulbs have been planted. Once these sprouts have appeared, place the pots in a warmer place, where they may receive natural or artificial sunlight, allowing the plants to grow and bloom.

Till your soil outside with a manual tiller to loosen the soil and allow oxygen to enter the ground, preparing it for planting before the threat of heavy rains. You may wish to add fertiliser into the soil to provide nutrients that will allow your flowers to grow better.

Create holes with a bulb planter 3 inches larger than the bulb. Space the holes 2 to 3 inches apart from each other, and place your bulbs in the holes, laying on their sides. Place soil loosely over the bulbs to allow enough oxygen to enter the soil and also permit roots to properly establish. Soak the bulbs with water after covering and continue to water them two to three times a week after planting.

Check the soil frequently to ensure it hasn't dried out. If so, water the soil. Ten weeks after the darkening period--in which the roots will establish under the ground--the bulbs will begin to sprout and may bloom after another seven weeks. Continue to water your flowers, after they have grown, to prevent them from drying up early.

Remove bulbs after your flowers have passed their lifespan. Remove old shoots from the bulb, and dust off any soil with a soft brush or dry cotton cloth. Leave your bulbs out to dry for two to three days, and place them in cardboard box or paper bag, filled with newspaper, to save for next planting season.

Things You'll Need

  • Bulbs
  • Pot
  • Soilless potting mix
  • Soil
  • Fertiliser
  • Manual tiller
  • Bulb planter
  • Water
  • Cardboard box
  • Paper bag
  • Soft bristle brush
  • Cotton cloth
  • Newspaper
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About the Author

Anya Meave is a freelance writer from San Diego, Calif. She began writing in 2009 for various websites. Majoring in telemedia, she has written scripts for student projects and has been chosen to submit a spec script for the 2011 Nickelodeon Writers Fellowship. Meave has an associate degree in photography from Southwestern College.