Anyone who has lived in central Indiana for a while knows that after a long, cold winter, one of the first signs of spring is the appearance of spring-blooming flowers like daffodils and crocuses. As you complete the last lawn-mowing of summer and before the leaf-raking of fall, take some time to plant some bulbs. You’ll be rewarded with a stunning display in the spring. 

When to Plant Bulbs in Central Indiana

Spring flowering bulbs are planted in fall. Bulbs planted too early may actually bloom before winter only to be killed by the harsh winter weather. Planting too late won’t give the bulbs adequate time to take root. Bulbs should be planted prior to the first hard freeze or in late September through mid October in the central Indiana area.

What Bulbs to Plant in Central Indiana


tulipTulips are beautiful, well-loved flowers that come in a wide assortment of colors and shapes. Plant tulip bulbs in the fall, 6 – 8 weeks before a hard frost is expected and when soils are below 60 degrees F on a site with full or afternoon sun.

Plant bulbs deep—at least 8 inches, measuring from the base of the bulb — and 4 – 6 inches apart in a properly loosened and prepared hole that allows for excellent drainage. Place the bulb in the hole with the pointy end up. Cover with soil and press soil firmly, then water bulbs right after planting.


daffodilDaffodils have conspicuous flowers with six petal surmounted by a trumpet-shaped corona. The flowers are generally white or yellow with either uniform or contrasting colored petals and corona. Plant daffodil bulbs in fall, 6 to 8 weeks before a hard frost is expected and when soils are below 60 degrees F.

Use a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 – 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Dig a hole about 3 to 4 times as deep as the height of the bulb. Set the bulb in the hole, pointy end up, then cover with soil and press down. Daffodil bulbs should be spaced 4 – 6 inches apart. Water thoroughly after planting.

Checkered Lilies or Guinea Hen Flowers

guinea-henIn the Lily family and re native to temperate areas of the northern hemisphere, Guinea Hen Flowers are known for their nodding, cup-shaped flowers, which usually bloom in the spring. These lilies have interesting checkered blooms of white or maroon.

Plant bulbs soon after receiving in holes 3 – 4” deep and 2 – 3” apart in an area that receives full sun or partial shade.


crocusCrocuses have low-growing, colorful, cup-shaped flowers that are a beautiful addition to garden beds and lawns. These plants flower very early and will multiply over time to cover large areas. Plant crocus bulbs in fall, six to eight weeks before a hard frost is expected and when soils are below 60 degrees F.

When planting, loosen the soil to a depth of 12 – 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Place the bulbs about 4 inches deep, pointy end up. Cover with soil and press firmly. Space bulbs 3 to 4 inches apart and plant in groups of a dozen or more for a beautiful effect. Water thoroughly after planting.

General Tips for Bulb Planting

When purchasing bulbs, select the largest bulbs you can find that are firm — not mushy. Bulbs do not like to sit in moist soil, so proper preparation of the bed is important. Loosen soil beneath the depth of the bulb to allow for adequate drainage.  Plant bulbs in assorted clusters for a beautiful impact in your landscape.

A little work now can have a rewarding payoff when we come out on the other side of another central Indiana winter!


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