planting bulbs upside down + questions...

johndoug(z6 Philly)November 13, 2006

i'm not sure if you've ever heard of anyone doing something so brilliant, but it is my first time planting bulbs, and i planted my first 30 upside down. i found like 15, but i was tired and frustrated and left the others. i'm doubting they'll grow a flower? but will they survive if i dig them up next year?

many of the bulbs i bought at lowes a few months ago rotted out - the one i was most excited for, the fritillaria - was toast.

i dug up an area that used to be daffodils, but stopped producing, and i found clumps of a ton of bulbs.

i felt guilty to throw them out, but couldn't use all of them. are the smaller ones as likely to survive as the larger ones? how many years does it take a tiny bulb to get big enough to produce a nice sized flower? i kept the larger ones and replanted them.


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A good trick for planting bulbs that are hard to tell which side is the basal plate (the part the roots grow from) is by planting them on their side, that way they will always find the right way to grow without spending all of their energy.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 11:31PM
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Nell Jean

Take heart, Doug. The intent of a bulb is to grow, and to flower. You didn't say if the upside down bulbs were daffodils, which have contractile roots that will pull themselves around to pointy side up. Tulips will just grow a longer stem; they know which way to the surface. Planting bulbs right side up saves their energy, but upside down is not usually fatal. As owlette said, for little bulbs like ranunculus and anemones where you can't tell, sideways is good. Lilies on their side are okay. In theory, it keeps the centers from rotting. Lilies tend to not grow straight up, anyway. the point at which the stem emmerges may be as much as a foot from the actual bulb.

All those little bulbs will make a blooming size in a year or two. Can you just dig a trench along the edge of a bed and tuck them in? They need some rich compost or fertilizer. So do the bigger bulbs that haven't been blooming.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 8:49AM
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i'm a new gardener and after a full day of planting i realized i did the same thing johndoug did - planted bulbs upside down. i did a web search and came across this posting so am looking for odds of whether they'll grow at all. they're gladiolis, tigridia, and freesia. maybe some are sideways, but mostly not. i found about 10 of 24 gladiolis and swtiched them, but none of the other 23 bulbs. i hope the bulbs and work are not wasted. i took such care to plant the right depth, feed, water - UGH! does anyone have any more encouraging words or advice?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 8:35PM
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No. My first year with my new house trying to garden, I bought a sack of daf bulbs and planted them all upside down. None of them came up. Maybe they were just bad bulbs, but I think they just couldn't struggle their way up.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 2:08AM
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