There’s an old saying among gardeners: “As long as you can get your shovel in the ground, you can plant your bulbs.”

It’s only February but nursery-grown crocus, daffodils, hyacinths and tulips seem to be everywhere. Potting soil and pockets are lining the shelves of grocery stores and garden suppliers alike.

If you haven’t planted bulbs last fall and are hoping to add touches of spring to your garden, here are suggested guidelines to help you get started.

Before You Plant

Before you purchase, choose bulb plants that are in the bud stage but not yet blooming.

As soon as you bring potted plants home, water the pots well and then store them in a cool dry area such as a basement.

If you transplant to larger containers, make sure the bulbs are not right up against the sides of the pot, where they could freeze. There should be plenty of soil between the pot sides and the bulbs for insulation.

As long as the temperature is above freezing, they can stay in a cold but protected area to get used to colder temperatures before you plant them outside.

As soon as you see new growth, you can add a high-nitrogen fertilizer. Make sure you water before and after.

How soon can you start planting? Once soil is frost-free (check for ice crystals). Worried about future freezing cold snaps? Plant a large movable container to brighten your front door, deck or porch.

Getting Creative with Containers

From toys to tubs, bread baskets to bicycle baskets, don’t be afraid to get creative with containers. Flea markets are hunting grounds for unusual containers such as the following: old leather boots, pet baskets, antique watering cans, wheelbarrows and tin breadbaskets.

Planning garden plantings

Plan to plant low-growers like the crocus, primroses and pansies along edges.

Place taller blooms such as tulips and jonquils further back in a flower bed or garden location.

Plant in thick clumps or drifts rather than placing in straight rows or in isolation.

Daffodils don’t a lot of shade. They also prefer soil that isn’t water-logged.

If your property has deciduous trees, plant around the base.

Sun-facing rockeries are an ideal location for crocus, tulips and daffodils.

Planting Tips

Prep your soil. Take a rake to your flower beds. This breaks up the top layer of soil and lets you check the soil condition, for example, whether it’s too compact.  If so, add vermiculite or peat moss.

Enrich your soil with compost mixes. Peat-enriched soil with a compost mixture keeps the English primrose healthy and vibrant.

add mulch to help insulate the bulbs and retain moisture.

Plant as deeply as possible. Even if the soil seems frosty, your plants are better in the ground than in your basement or garage because they start to root.