Old Bulbs & Smaller Bulbs

pondbucketOctober 2, 2009


First time poster to this Forum.

I wondering if planting the bulbs I have is just an exercise in futility...

All summer I've been preparing some raised planting beds in my garden for this moment so I can have a couple of large tulip fields.

I've been in the process of digging-up & moving the old tulips I've had in an old strawberry field. The tulip bulbs have been in the ground for about four years and really performed well each year. But I have to move the bulbs out of that location. So the thought was to create new raised beds on the south side of my house and put the old bulbs into these.

Once I started digging out the old bulbs I realized that they had really multiplied several times. I probably went from having a hundred to about four or five times that amount... only the bulbs as they are pulled out of the ground are splitting and are rather small. The field they were in was rather dry and I seldom irrigated so I don't think rot is a factore. The bulbs themselves are kinda like a garlic bulb where each bulb is made-up of smaller cloves. That's one situation I have.

The next situation is one that I DON'T like to EVEN THINK ABOUT because I'm afraid of the answer. I wanted to do this project, moving the raised beds, last year but ran out of time. But I purchased a couple of hundred bulbs last autumn but never planted them. At first, I kept the unplanted bulbs in the bags in the garage where it got cold and FORGOT ABOUT THEM. They were kept dry but they were subjected to freezing temperatures. Then in the spring, fearing the heat of summer and still UN-Able to find the time to plant, I moved them into the basement where it is cool and dark. I don't see any mold or any thing on the bulbs; they were kept together with one another in brown paper bags. A few of them have some growth coming off of them, but it's small. Is there still hope for these bulbs to produce in a year or two if I plant them now???

Any special tips for planting given my unique situation??

Thanks in advance.

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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

If there's growth coming out of the bulbs, they're still alive (miraculously :). Plant them, but don't expect many, if any, blooms this first year. Any of the others that are firm, and not dried out, hollow, or molded have a good chance of being alive too. I cannot help you with your moving project. We use tulips as annuals in the south.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2009 at 2:31PM
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iris_gal(z9 CA)

Those old reblooming tulips are a treasure. I planted a double lavender 3 or 4 years ago and left it in place. Some bloom the 2nd year, none 3rd, and last year gorgeous again. Those splitters grew to blooming size!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 2:21AM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

Those 'cold and hot bulbs' - if you have a utility bed somewhere, you know - a vegie plot that you won't need until later in the growing season (the one you normally set aside for growing the winter greens would be excellent) - plant out into there.

Go through your overlooked bulbs and check for any that have gone 'corky'. I know you said you've missed the mould but sometimes they can dry out quite badly. Plant those separately. After a similar situation earlier this year I'm not that ready to write off the little and shrivelled.

Plant out in straight rows and label them - big, all-weather labels. Plant as deeply as you usually would. Keep your green thumbs crossed. Some might fail. Some might manage a leaf. Some will shock and surprise you with flowers.

I was late planting this year (May-June) and the bulbs weren't 'new from the packet'. Little pips - like your cloves, and some shrunken specimens I had few if any hopes of seeing do anything. No fridging whatsoever.

Most of the early Doubles showed up and flowered. Those that didn't flower have healthy leaves. The greigii did brilliantly. A totally 'oh well.Give it a go' black parrot bulb about the size of the top of my thumb - flowered graciously. Menton, poor shrunken blobs - are currently in flower, tall, strong and bouncing back from the spring winds. Others that I put in to 'plump up and grow on' - are budding.

The only ones that seem to grump for me are the Darwins. They mutter for two years or more before they relent and flower.

For the big project, I'd pick the 'best' bulbs to plant out - and put the others into the cutting garden. Might as well have some for eye candy and plenty for the vases ;-).

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 4:38AM
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Excellent, I'm planting them out right now! I'm not putting anything to waste.
What I'm unsure about I'll put off to the side in a bed and use it for cut flowers. Why not?

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 11:26AM
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