Plant Spring Bulbs Now????

darenka(7b)September 16, 2009

I know this must seem like a silly question, but I've never planted spring bulbs (never lived anywhere appropriate to grow them). I have hyacinthus, fritillaria, narcissus, tulips, and iris. I have a vague memory of people trying to grow tulips in Hawaii--they had special refrigerators to give them a chill (no other fruits or veggies in same refrigerator because it ruined the bulbs??) I just didn't see the point in fighting nature. Now I'm in Germany and I think I'll definitely want to have some early flowers. Any tips for a rank beginner would be appreciated. Oh, and do I pull up the dahlia bulbs when they are finished blooming? (another vague memory of some such thing) It's about 75 degrees daytime and 55 overnight right now, if that adds to the equation. Thanks for any help you can give.

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75 degrees daytime and below 60 at night is absolutely perfect! Plant away! :)

Can't help you on Dahlias. ;(

    Bookmark   September 16, 2009 at 11:09AM
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greenbug(zone 6_CT)

I can give you some tips on the dahlia bulbs.based on my experience and what my expert neighbor told me to do.
What you have to do is -
1. Wait for the first frost to hit.When the first frost hits, the leaves on the Dahlia plants turn into blanched spinach like appearance.
2. Leaving about six inches stem from the bottom, cut and remove the rest of the foliage and stem above.
3. Leave the dahlia tubers in the ground for a week or so.
4. Then dig them up and wrap them in saran wrap or in brown bags and then put them in a plastic bag with punched holes for some aeration.
5. Store them in an unheated garage/storage space for the rest of the winter. Occassionally, you may want to spray the tubers with a mist of spray and fungicide.

I am sure others have some tips also, but this worked for me really well.
Also, you can check the Dahlia forum. There are many many posts on overwintering Dahlia tubers with pics and step by step instructions.

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   September 17, 2009 at 11:01AM
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Thanks much fellow gardeners. I even purchased a bulb-hole digger for this new adventure. I don't know if I'll actually like it, but as with most tools, you don't know unless you try it. I'll spend my weekend planting away; then wait for the first frost to wilt my dahlias. I hadn't even realized there was a dahlia forum as I spent most my time in the tropical forums.

A new climate just means new gardening adventures, but it's all a bit overwhelming at the moment. At least in the Portuguese Azores, the garden shop was familiar--here not even the plants speak my language. Hopefully, by next season, I'll be fluent in bulbs and tubers. Happy gardening to you. I'll be back--mostly reading and learning, but I'll probably have more beginner questions.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2009 at 5:17PM
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ladychroe(z6 NJ)

Oh, don't worry, you'll like spring bulbs :). Once planted, they require almost no care and most are so indescribably beautiful.

Yes, plant them now, but you can keep planting until the ground freezes. Even after that you can pour water on the ground to defrost, then plant. Summer bulbs, like dahlias, take a bit more effort but are also very rewarding.

One other thing: pay attention to heights and bloom times (and to a lesser extent, sun requirements, although you can often get away with sun-lovers under deciduous trees). Try to put together combos that bloom at the same time- like scilla and Tete a Tete daffodils (one of my favorites).

More advice, since you asked :). Plant early-spring, late-winter bulbs like dwarf iris, giant crocus, chinodoxa, galanthus (snowdrops), eranthus (winter buttercup) etc. These little flowers are so dratted cheery at the end of winter, they just lift your heart. Especially since you may not be used to harsher winters.

Also, beware of invasive spreaders like Ornithogalum (Star of Bethlehem), ipheon, and to a lesser extent, muscari. You can't get rid of them.

Have fun!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2009 at 9:33PM
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Please help. I'm a wanna be gardener with limited space. So far have only had luck with roses. I would like to plant some spring flowering, low growing bulbs that will grow well in full shade. The area is along a fence and is moist most of the time as that's the path our water runs off when it rains. It's also shaded by deciduous trees. We live in central Texas so have fairly mild winters with an occasional freeze. Sorry for the lengthy post, this is my first time.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2009 at 6:29PM
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Oh sandi, I hope you come back to see this. Your question deserves a separate post all on it's own. By tagging your question onto this one, not everyone will see it. (I certainly don't mind... I'm just not qualified to help as I'm a beginning 'bulber'. Certainly some of the regular members can give some great recommendations. Good luck.

And ladychroe, how FABULOUS your garden looks. I'd love to see the rest of it in all the seasons. Thanks much for the advice--I do need it. I'm certain I'll need the joyful heart lift of spring bulbs. This will be my first white winter in 40+ years. I have vague memories of loving the first snowfall and despising it by February... I saw pictures of this place in February and I thought "how depressing," everything looks cold and dead--even the snow looks tired and dirty. It's so gorgeous now and will be for a few more months I hope. But I think you need those spring bulbs to lure you back outdoors after a harsh winter. Thanks so much for inspiring me.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2009 at 8:28PM
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