Bulbs that flower in winter and spring are sold during autumn. Buy bulbs that are plump and free of cuts or softness that could indicate rot.
The rule of thumb for bulb planting is to plant pointy side up, at a depth at least twice the length of the bulb.
It’s important to plant deeply in sandy soil and warm climates, as shallow bulbs can become hot and may not perform well. There are exceptions, but this gets most bulbs off to a good start. Bulbs that break the rules are anemones, which are planted pointy side down, ranunculus, which go in claws down, and large bulbs such as hippeastrum or soft bulbs such as lachenalias and liliums – which are planted at the surface, not buried.
Where space is tight, bulbs can be grown in plastic pots sunk into the ground. Lift after flowering finishes and allow to die back naturally in an out-of-the-way spot. This is a handy technique for daffodils and tulips, which have large, often floppy leaves until early summer.