In gardening, certain things can be put off and certain things cannot. The earth will not stop spinning if you decide that you’re not going to weed for a day–or a week–or even a month. Yes, there may be consequences. As the old saying goes, one year’s weed seeds, 7 years’ weeds.
But if you don’t plant bulbs in the fall, you will not have spring flowering bulbs. And it’s easy to think, “well, I will just buy pots of tulips or daffodils or hyacinths,”–fill in your favorite bulbs–and then plant them–but it’s not as easy to do. Because they come with the foliage (leaves) already attached, you have to let those leaves die off, then plant the bulbs to get them down to the proper depth. By then, it’s early summer–and who wants to leave a patch of earth bare so that you can insert your bulbs then? No, much easier to plant them now.
So what to do? Is it too late to order them from a catalog? Maybe. True bulb lovers began ordering in July, when the bulbs catalogs came out. But there are still some great choices left. You might not get your first choice, but you will get some good ones.
By the way, you might have noticed, my decided preference for Connecticut bulb companies. That surely doesn’t mean that these are the only good companies–it means that these were the immediate catalogs I could grab when I wanted a photo (and yes, incidentally, I did place orders from these growers this year. It just a version of shopping local).
But these are by no means the only excellent bulb companies. I also ordered from Brent and Becky’s bulbs, another wonderful company whose catalog just wasn’t quite as nearby. And no, I get nothing for saying anything about these companies–I just happen to like them.
Can you go to a box store or supermarket and buy them? Yes. But the catalog bulbs are more varied in choice and generally are larger as well.
What’s the point of a larger bulb? Remember, a bulb is just a “storage unit” for the flowers. It contains the energy that the plant needs to product flowers and stems. The larger the bulb, the more prolific the flowers and stems.
If you are someone that needs instant gratification, the next best place to get your bulbs is at a garden center. They generally buy from specialty bulb farms so again, your bulbs will be larger. You’ll also have a larger selection than just tulips and daffodils and the bulb packages will likely have better information (although not always). You’ll also have access to garden center employees who can answer your questions if you have issues with critters or difficult soil.
There are so many bulbs–literally thousands of different kinds–that if one or two types haven’t worked for you, you should definitely find a garden center and try others. Ask for help. Bulbs are a true joy.
And as it gets later in the season, look for sales and close-outs and try some for forcing. You’ll see my posts later this year about forcing hyacinths. I do it all winter. It gets me through the cold, icy and bleak days from November through April.
Great reminder. I’m in Colorado and we have had snow and freezing temperatures. I’m trying to figure out if planting after the first freeze is now or after a “real” freeze. Take care.
I’ve been watching your weather. It’s a great reminder that when I think my weather here is crazy, I should remember Colorado! I’ve vacationed there a lot, both summer and winter. It’s a wonderful place but I am not sure I could garden there.
As a general rule, they say bulbs should go in the ground when the soil temperature is around 50 degrees. I am sure the snows chilled your soil quite a bit–but you probably have a little bit more time to enjoy your weather before you need to plant.
We get to wait a bit longer. If we plant too early, spring bulbs bloom in winter and get battered by rain. (Some do not mind the rain.) Summer bulb planted might get planted late too, just so that they do not start blooming while the spring bulbs are still going.