Too late/early to plant spring bulbs???

pottergirlDecember 30, 2008

Trying to find out if January is too late/early to plant spring bulbs in zone 5? Should I wait until spring? or even wait until next fall?

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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana(zone 5/6)

Trying to find out if January is too late/early to plant spring bulbs in zone 5?
Do you mean spring blooming bulbs, like daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, crocus? If so, and your ground is not frozen yet, they need to be planted ASAP.

Do you mean spring planted bulbs, that will then bloom in the summer, like lily bulbs? If so, it is too early to plant them, unless they are already bought, or dug and need dealt with in some way.

Do you have the bulbs already, and if so, what are they? Lots of folks refer to a lot of things as 'bulbs' which really are not bulbs and are handled much differently. An example is that lots of folks refer to bearded irises as bulbs when actually they are rhizomes, and planted and treated a lot differently that most bulbs.

Once you let us know what bulbs you had in mind, and if you already have them in your possession, we can better answer your question.

I, for one, will hopefully get a chance yet here really soon to plant some daffodils, tulips, and alliums (spring blooming bulbs) that I bought on clearance locally a few days ago.


    Bookmark   December 30, 2008 at 9:40AM
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I mean spring blooming like hyacinths and iris. I do have some bulbs (don't know much about them) but they are daylilies and bloom in the summer.

I don't have any bulbs that need planting atm, I was actually looking to buy some today. I'm thinking probably Iris and hyacinth for sure. I haven't decide on the type of iris though, still trying to figure out which is the easiest to grow?

Any suggestions on bulbs for this zone are welcome :)

    Bookmark   December 30, 2008 at 9:50AM
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First, daylilies are not bulbs - they are fleshy-rooted perennials that are incredibly tough and hardy and can be planted anytime of year the soil is workable. Not all iris are bulbs either and many varieties can be planted similar to the daylilies. Most true bulbs that bloom in spring need a period of vernalization to set roots and develop flower buds, that's why they are planted in fall. If insufficient vernalization is provided, they won't bloom, or at least not that first season in the ground. The pre-chilling of spring flowering bulbs in warmer climates achieves the same purpose.

IME, January is pretty much the limit on when one can plant spring flowering bulbs and expect them to bloom that spring. And that may be difficult to accomplish in zone 5.....I'd imagine your soils to be pretty well frozen at this time of year :-) The other aspect is that spring flowering bulbs available for sale this late in the planting season tend to be leftovers and of lesser quality....the good stuff's already been sold! One needs to maintain dormant bulbs under proper storage conditions for them to remain viable and they simply don't last forever out of the ground.

If you don't have any bulbs on hand to plant now, I wouldn't recommend searching any out. The combination of unsuitable planting conditions (frozen soil or snowcover), the lack of quality bulb sources and the lateness of the season will just serve to produce unsatisfactory, frustrating results. Wait until later when the soil is workable and the weather cooperative to plant perennials like iris and daylilies. And look for already started bulbs (in containers in leaf and often in bud) available at garden centers or other plant outlets when they come in season - February and March in my climate, perhaps a bit later in yours. Or wait until fall to plant the dormant bulbs for the following spring.

And pretty much any spring flowering bulb will work in your climate. You just need to do some research on what are bulbs (corms, tubers, etc.) and what are really rooted or rhizomatous perennials.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2008 at 11:14AM
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Wow thanks so much. Helps alot. I think I'm going to wait until next fall to make sure I get nice plants that will last and look wonderful.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2008 at 12:00PM
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linnea56(z5 IL)

You have received very good advice. I just finished planting yesterday, but that was my own fault for buying too much and then getting surprised by the early fall cold and snow. It was not easy cutting through that frozen crust and many areas I could not get through at all. So the results will definitely be sub-optimal.

As gardengal saidÂI find, at least here, that the big box stores like HD will have sprouted hyacinths on sale right before Easter. They were priced less than what I could have paid for the unplanted bulb. They were planted in a 4 pack of soil mix, not forced in water, which was a plus. I enjoyed them inside, then planted them into the garden in May, where they have bloomed beautifully ever since. Worth looking for. They were in the part of the store that has houseplants for sale, not on the outdoor nursery section.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2008 at 1:45PM
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Hi...I am wondering if I can plant Spring flowering bulbs now, for next Spring. Will the bulbs rot or something? I'm tearing up a patch of grass to plant all sorts of Summer wildflowers, but want bulb flowers in that space next Spring. I'd like to avoid ruining that seeding by putting the bulbs down in the fall. If I can do it now, it's handier. Please let me know...thanks!!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 11:13AM
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ladychroe(z6 NJ)

Missnorthwest, you may want to repost your question as a new thread so you get more hits, rather than tagging onto an old thread.

But on to your question. You won't find spring-flowering bulbs for sale this time of year, and if you do, you shouldn't buy them. They are likely last year's leftovers, and bulbs out of the ground almost never last that long.

If you must plant bulbs now, buy some daffodils and hyacinths growing in pots and plant those in your beds. That way, you'll have blooms this year and for many years to come. Blooms may be sparse next year, because bulbs sold in pots have been forced and are weakened.

Your best bet would be to plant bulbs this fall. There is an astonishing variety out there, and the bulbs sold in fall are fat, healthy and ready to burst into bloom next spring. It's not hard to plant bulbs around established plants. You just kind of "lift their skirts" and plant underneath. It's even easier if you wait until frost kills your plants down to the ground in November.

Fall is the best time to plant spring bulbs, and they really will do best if you don't mess with Mother Nature's schedule.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2009 at 2:58PM
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Thank you ladychroe, I will listen to your advice...I didn't even think of planting bulbs on sale now in pots already. Silly of me! I'd rather plant the bulbs when they will be the healthiest...I suppose of the two, seeds are easier to reseed than bulbs to repurchase & plant. I'll let Mother Nature keep her's best afterall!! Thanks again!!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 5:37PM
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