Can you plant bulbs in January? Garden experts have warning if you're planting spring bulbs late

Have you missed the boat?

Hyacinth bulbs in tray
(Image credit: Future PLC )

‘Can I plant bulbs in January?’ is a question you might be asking yourself as you look out on the frosty grass and your hibernating plants. And we don’t blame you.

Spring is the perfect time to bring your garden to life, but knowing when to plant bulbs for spring is key. Typically the time to plant bulbs is in Autumn before the last frost hits, so while you can still plant bulbs in December, gardening experts want you to heed a warning if you’re thinking about planting spring bulbs in January.

Can you plant bulbs in January?

Whether you want to try out a bulb lasagne or you just want to add a bit of colour to your garden, you might be inclined to plant bulbs during the more dreary months of the year in preparation for the blooming season. However, Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench, warns against this. 

‘I wouldn't necessarily recommend planting any bulbs in January here in the UK,’ he says. ‘This is because there's a very high chance that the ground has already frozen, and realistically you need to ensure your bulbs are planted before the ground freezes for the first time or after the final ground freeze of the season, which isn't likely to be in January.’

Bulbs planted in terracotta pots

(Image credit: Getty Images)

But while Steve would suggest waiting to plant your bulbs, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to ditch this idea altogether. 

‘If you missed the planting season for your Spring flowering bulbs, then you can still plant them in January, but the chances that the plants will be fully healthy and successful when flowering is less than it would be if you planted during their proper season. You must also make sure that the ground isn't frozen or there isn't about to be an excessive amount of frost, as this will prevent the bulbs from developing their roots, which will, in turn, prevent their flowering.’

It’s also a good idea to choose the bulbs you plant in January carefully, as some bulbs will fare better than others during these colder months.

Headshot of gardening expert Steve Chilton
Steve Chilton

Steve is a passionate and knowledgeable garden expert with several years of experience within the field and has developed strong expertise for all things nature and plants. Steve is a keen educator and loves to share this knowledge with others. He strives to simplify complex garden practices and encourage eco-friendly gardening.

The best bulbs to plant in January

If you’re worried about the colder temperatures and the frosty ground in January, planting your bulbs in pots is always another way to ensure your spring garden will be in full bloom. And the following bulbs are generally considered to be the best bulbs to plant in January: 


Tulips in vases

(Image credit: Future PLC / Nicola Stocken)

Technically, the best time to plant tulip bulbs is between September and late November, but these bulbs fare best during the colder months. This helps the bulbs fight off disease and encourage bigger and bolder growth, which is why they’re generally considered to be safe to plant in January.

This is especially true if you’re planting them in containers, and our guide on how to plant tulips in pots should make this as easy as pie. 


Window box filled with plants

(Image credit: Future PLC)

A staple in any Spring garden, daffodils are a welcome sign that warmer weather is on the way. Perfect for beginners, you’ll be happy to know that daffodil bulbs can also survive being planted in January. 

Steve says, ‘Daffodils are usually the best to plant in January, but expect a later flowering than usual, and expect that there might be fewer flowers than there should be.’ 


Hyacinth bulbs in tray

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Ideally, you shouldn’t plant hyacinth bulbs in January. For guaranteed blooms, you should aim to plant them before the first frost to ensure that their roots have enough time to establish.

Hyacinth bulbs are hardy, though, which means that you can get away with planting them later than you might think. If you do plant hyacinth bulbs in January, however, you must plant them in containers to protect them from the harsh temperatures. 


Is it too late to plant bulbs in Jan?

It’s not recommended to plant bulbs in January, as bulbs should be planted at least six weeks before the first frost of the year. In January, the temperatures are often too cold for bulbs to survive the winter - but that doesn’t mean that you can’t plant any bulbs. 

If you’ve left your spring garden plans a little too late, you should be able to get away with planting daffodil, tulip, and maybe even some hyacinth bulbs in January. It’s always best to plant these in containers to give them some protection from the cold, though.

What bulbs are best to plant in January?

Ideally, you should plant bulbs before January to ensure that they have enough time to establish their roots and grow before the spring months. If you do decide to plant bulbs in January, though, planting tulip, daffodil, or hyacinth bulbs is best. 

Just remember that planting these bulbs so late may result in fewer blooms, and it may be that your bulbs flower later than usual. 

Is it OK to plant bulbs in February?

February can be a great time to start planting bulbs in your garden, but it’s important to understand that not all bulbs will thrive in these conditions. 

While it may get warmer in February, tender bulbs may struggle to survive the colder months, so it’s best to plant hardy summer-flowering bulbs such as lilies, agapanthus, geraniums, and Japanese anemones. 

So, can you plant bulbs in January? While you certainly can, it might be worth waiting, though. 

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.