UCCE Master Gardeners of Sacramento County
University of California
UCCE Master Gardeners of Sacramento County

Sacramento Bulb Planting Schedule

Choose plump, firm bulbs that feel heavy for their size.  Avoid soft or shriveled bulbs. 

Pocket gophers, chipmunks, ground squirrels and mice relish many bulbs (tulips are favorites).  Fortunately, they avoid daffodils and other narcissus because of their bitter taste.  The best ways to avoid damage include planting bulbs in raised beds, in wire baskets sunk in the ground or in pots or other containers. 

Chill crocus, tulips and hyacinths in a paper bag in the refrigerator crisper section for at least 6 weeks before planting to insure strong stems and blooms.  Label the bag.  Do not store near apples or other fruit (they give off ethylene gas which can destroy flowers inside the bulbs).

Click here for a printer-friendly version of this chart (pdf 19KB).

 

Name

Type

Planting Time

Planting Depth
(in inches)

Spacing
(in inches)

Bloom Time
**

Comments

Allium

bulb

Sept-Nov

As deep as bulb height or width, whichever is greater

small:  4-6
large:  8-12

s, su

Lift and divide only after clumps become crowded.

Amaryllis
(naked lady)

bulb

Feb

Tops even with, or slightly above soil surface

12

su

Bloom appears 6 weeks after foliage dies back in late spring or early summer.  See Hippeastrum for giant amaryllis.

Anemone

tuber

Sept-Dec

1-2

6-8

s, su, f

Plant in full sun.  Plant tubers scarred side up.

Babiana

corm

Nov

4

3

s

Naturalize if soil is well drained and relatively warm.

Begonia
(tuberous)

tuber

Mar-May

Top even with soil surface

2

su, f

Best in containers.  Lift tubers when leaves fall off; store in cool, dry place until spring.

Calla (white)

rhizome

Oct-Apr

4-6

12-24

s, su

Needs year-round moisture.  Grow in light shade.

Calla (dwarf colored)

rhizome

Oct-Apr

2

8-12

s, su

Plant with “eyes” up.  Withhold water in late summer or early fall to encourage dormancy.  Grow in light shade.

Canna

rhizome

Feb-Apr

2-4

18-24

su, f

Can be grown in large pots.  Cut each stem to ground after bloom.

Crocosmia

corm

Feb

2

3

s, su

Good cut flower.  Needs no winter protection.

Crocus

corm

Sept-Oct

2-4

4

w, s

Won’t naturalize where winters are warm.  Pre-chill as for tulips.

Daffodil/
Narcissus

bulb

Sept-Dec

small: 3-4 medium: 4-5
large: 5-6

small: 2-3
large: 6-8

w, s

In pots, set bulb with tip just below soil surface.

Dahlia

tuberous
root

Feb-May

3

small: 12-24
lg: 4-5'

su, f

Plant with “eyes” facing up.  When staking tall varieties, the “eye” should just touch the stake.

Freesia

corm

Sept-Nov

2

2-3

s

Plant the corms with pointed ends up.  Naturalize well.

Gladiolus

corm

Feb-Apr

4 times deeper than corm height

small:  4
large:  6

s, su, f

Superb cut flower.  Plant at 1-2 week intervals over 4-6 weeks for longer bloom period.

Hippeastrum (giant amaryllis)

bulb

Oct-Feb

Upper half of bulb above soil surface (in pots)

2 (from pot edge to bulb)

s

Usually grown in pots.  Water and feed regularly all summer until leaves turn yellow; withhold water and let plant dry out.

Hyacinth

bulb

Nov-Dec

6 * (see below)

4-6

s

Pre-chill in refrigerator for at least 6 weeks (buy in September-October).

Iris - bearded

rhizome

Sept-Oct

Top just below soil surface

12-24

s

Some reblooming (spring and fall) varieties becoming available.

Iris - Dutch

bulb

Sept-Dec

4

3-4

s

Naturalizes well.

Lily

bulb

Feb-Mar

Sept-Oct

small: 2-3
medium: 3-4
large: 4-6

12

su, f

Many species and hybrids available with variable bloom times.  Except for dry-summer natives, provide moisture all year.

Muscari

bulb

Sept-Oct

2-3

3

s

Known as grape hyacinth.  Naturalizes well.

Ranunculus

tuber

Sept-Dec

1-2

4-5; 6-8 (in pots)

s

Soak tubers in water for 45 minutes before planting. Plant with “prongs” down.

Scilla

bulb

Sept-Oct

2-4

4-6

s

Leave for several years before lifting and dividing.

Sparaxis

corm

Sept-Oct

2-3

2-4

s

Long bloom period in early spring.

Tigridia

bulb

Feb

2-4

4-8

su

Known as tiger flower.  Gophers are fond of bulbs.

Tritonia

corm

Sept-Oct

2-3

2-4

s

Naturalizes well.  Needs regular watering until flowers fade.

Tuberose

rhizome

Feb-Apr

2

4-6

su, f

Will bloom year after year in Sacramento area.

Tulip

bulb

Nov-Dec

6-8 * (see below)

4-8

s

Pre-chill in refrigerator for at least 6 weeks (buy in September-October).

Watsonia

corm

Sept-Oct

4

6

s, su

Corms can be left undisturbed for many years.

Zephranthes

bulb

Anytime

1-2

3

su, f

May rebloom if kept alternately wet and dry.  Best to plant September-October.

  * In pots, plant with top of the bulb just above the soil surface        
** Approximate bloom time:  s=spring; su=summer; f=fall; w=winter                   

4145 Branch Center Road, Sacramento, CA 95827       Master Gardener Phone:  916.876.5338             Fax:  916.875.6233

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