Late Planting Tips
Late Planting Tips

Late Planting Tips

Every year we get the question: What do we do with my bulbs if my soil has already frozen? You actually have several options.

Most bulbs can be planted successfully during a Winter or early Spring thaw. Store them in a cool, but not frozen, place in the mean time. If you use your refrigerator be sure to keep them separate from fruits such as apples which emit harmful gas. For those who's soil never freezes deeply, you can plant anytime through the fall, winter, and early spring. What bulbs need is enough cold to wake them from dormancy, and enough time to grow roots in preperation for spring foliage. Ideally they should have 6 weeks or more in cool soil for root growth, but they can do with less in a pinch.

Some bulbs are more sensitive to storage than others. These include large Tulips (not the species), Hyacinths and Alliums. Once February rolls around these start deteriating in storage. Plant them ASAP!

Forcing flowerbulbs to bloom early is a favorite pastime of all gardners who discover it. Bulbs can be planted in pots and bloom throughout the winter. Forced bulbs should be planted much more closely and shallowly than in the garden. Sometimes the top of the bulb even sticks up above the soil. Keep them in a place that is cold but not frozen, such as an unheated guarage. After a few weeks for root growth you can bring them inside to a sunny window to trick them into thinking its spring.

I think that one of the easiest ways to "plant" bulbs is in a plastic bag. Put a little moist soil around the bulbs and store in a cold (but unfrozen) place like you would for frocing. When things thaw out in spring you can remove the plastic and plant the whole clump of bulbs, already rooted and ready to grow. You can also put a bag full of rooted bulbs in decorative pot to make them presentable. After they are done flowering switch them out for another bag of bulbs.

I do recommend planting forced bulbs out in the garden come spring. I think it is a pitty to throw them out with no chance to grow for another year of flowers. Of course your available time and climate play a role. Paperwhites won't survive a zone 6 winter! Maybe you could send them to me...

Happy Planting!