Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Planting Bulbs

There is a rule of thumb for planting bulbs that many gardeners ignore. It goes like this - plant your bulbs 6-8 weeks before the ground freezes or is too cold for the bulbs to grow.

This length of time gives the bulb a chance to set roots and get acclimatized to the winter (making natural antifreeze etc) but not enough time or warm soil to start growing.

You can see the problem here I'm sure.

Just when does the soil get too cold?

In my USDA zone4 garden, I expect the end of November to be the average freezing date.

This means I plant bulbs in October - usually towards the middle or end. But not in September.

If you're warmer by a zone - you can delay by a week. So a USDA zone 5 gets till the first week in November before freezeup - back it up 6-8 weeks for the optimum planting date.

If you plant too early - the bulbs may start to grow underground (send shoots). If the bulb breaks dormancy, it may indeed not survive the winter.

So tell your gardening friends that just because retailers have bulbs for sale right now - there's no need to go nuts planting flower bulbs right now. Buy 'em but plant 'em later.


At 2:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I did plant my bulbs in early/middle September (was told "plant asap after purchasing"). They now (Sep 29) have foliage approx 2 to 3 inches above the ground. I planted about 350 bulbs!

What can I do?
Mary Lou (London, Ontario)

At 10:41 PM, Blogger Doug Green said...

Enjoy them now - and learn from the experience. :-(

And complain to whoever sold you the bulbs about the bad advice you got. If it was a garden center (shame on them) if a big box store (shame on you for believing them) :-))



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