Planted bulbs yesterday(LATE): What do you think of my strategy?

HighlanderNorthDecember 9, 2011

So I finally got my bulbs in yesterday late morning, and immediately went out to plant them.

Unfortunately, I didnt get back to this website til today, where I than saw some advice about bulb planting from 'Roland', but by then, my bulbs were planted in pots outside.

So anyway, I gathered my largest pots, mixed up some soil which is about 50% peat moss, and 50% bagged topsoil, so that I got a good, non-clumping loamy mixture, as the topsoil was a bit clay-like in it's compaction qualities, and the peat moss alleviated that.

Then, I added several inches of soil to the pots, added some 'Bulb-Tone' fertilizer to the area where the bulbs will be sitting, then planted the bulbs about 6" apart, covered them with 2" soil, then added more 'Bulb-Tone', then added more soil. The tulips were planted 7" deep, the daffodils: 5-6" deep, the allium: about 7", and the large Fritillaria: 5" deep.

Then, I dug out the holes in my garden where I'd grown my Dahlias earlier in the year, and I placed each pot in a hole, then backfilled the soil surrounding the pots.

Then, I covered each pot with about 3" of a mixture of leaves and tall grass from the field, to insulate them.

That was yesterday(Thursday-Dec 9)

Since then, I read a post from 'Roland' from 2 of my latest threads, and he gave some advice, but he is apparently from France, and the spelling and sentence structure was a bit hard to follow, but here's what I got from it.... I might be translating it wrong though

He said to bring the pots inside in the warmth for 2 weeks, so that they can develop roots before planting them back into the garden. Also, he said that "once the tulips 'colour', cut them off". But I'm not sure what that means, I think it means that the flowers should be removed once they bloom, but I'm not sure if he means they should be cut 'as soon' as they bloom, or after they are done blooming, and starting to turn brown and wilt.

He also said that a tulip grower should cut off the tulip 'pots'. I guess that might mean to cut off the tulip's seed 'pods', but again, I'm not sure. But if you've already removed the flower, I dont think there would be a pod left to remove anyway, so I'm confused......

He was very clear about fertilizing though, and I will do that.......

**So does my planting strategy that I used yesterday seem like an adequate one, that will help insure they will come up and bloom next year, even though late?

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They'll be fine.

Why did you plant them in pots before putting them into the garden? One would typically plant a potted bulb a little shallower to provide more potential root space (bulb roots tend to grow down and out).

As for deadheading's your prerogative. Classic tulips will benefit, but allium and fritillaria are able to generate seed without impairing next season's flowering.

Don't cut them down until the foliage and stem are pretty much dead and drying. Most plants are able to redistribute resources from the foliage and stem back to the bulb (senescence) until the plant finally severs the connection (abscission).

    Bookmark   December 9, 2011 at 3:23PM
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I put them into pots because they are going to permanently stay in pots. I have a large yard(1.25 acres), but it is about 90% deep shade, so I am limited to only 2 small clearings where there is a limited amount of sun. So, by planting them in pots, I can place them in the sunniest spots(tulips, daffodils) until they are done for the year(early June or so), then move them somewhere else, and plant some other plant in that same sunny spot.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 8:19PM
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Also, *smivies*, I planted them very late, and they needed at least a little more time to grow some roots before the soil freezes over, so if I wouldve planted them shallower in the pots, they wouldve been affected by the cold sooner, and not potentially rooted at least a little.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 9:10PM
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Plant them shallower in the pot and plant the pot deeper. There is no rule that the rim of the pot need be at soil level.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 4:02PM
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I think alliums - or at least the non-miniature varieties - do benefit from deadheading. Year to year I routinely cut some Allium "Purple Sensation" flowerheads off after they are declining, while allowing others to go to seed and then scatter the seeds. I do leave the entire stem, just cutting off the head. I've noticed that the ones that I deadheaded return with larger globes the following year. Digging up bulbs that were deadheaded also reveals they are much larger. Lastly, the ones that are cut back are more likely to "double" and turn into two mature plants after 2-3 years.

However, whether deadheaded or not, they do return and bloom, the only difference being the flower size. So if you want a truly naturalized garden, neglecting to deadhead is fine.

It makes sense there would be some energy loss when alliums go to seed, because the leaves are dormant by the time the seeds are developing so the only source of energy is stores in the bulb. I don't know if that would remain the case for varieties that keep their leaves longer or even stay green all spring and summer.


I'd be pretty optimistic your bulbs will perform well, but I do think they should be kept cool to begin rooting. Bulbs begin rooting quickly in fall as temperatures drop but don't plummet. So a cool - but not frozen - garage will probably be better than a room-temperature basement or closet.

As for your problem with finding sunlight - is your yard covered by deciduous trees, or is it conifers? One of the best things about spring bulbs is that they do most of their growth before deciduous trees leaf out. Since that means they still get sun, many gardeners use the opportunity to put "full sun" plants in what would otherwise be shade under a tree.

I'm in an especially sunny climate here in Colorado - Denver has very low average % cloud cover in addition to more solar intensity because of the altitude - so in general we get to push sun plants farther into the shade than is possible in other regions. But I've found that bulbs planted under trees actually perform better, by leaps and bounds, than those planted in full sun.

I've also found that bulbs planted under trees keep their leaves around much longer into the summer, whereas those scorched by sun go dormant sooner, which results in weakened performance the next year. So in the cool spring months, they get full sun which is truly unfiltered, in the summer as the weather warms they get gradually-increasing shade to protect them.

But there are other reasons spring-blooming plants can adapt to shade in May/June: the total solar energy increases drastically in summer because both the day length and the sun's intensity do, and both those factors are compounded. I am not sure of the exact figures, but I remember from a college class discussing solar energy that there energy availability is something like five times stronger on June 21 compared to Dec. 21.

So for a narrow period in late May/early June, many "sun-loving" plants will do OK in shade - and in fact the average 24/hr brightness in a shady area is close to the average 24/hr brightness of a sunny area at other times of the year.

I'd try planting a few bulbs in areas with dappled shade or under late-emerging trees, and see if they perform; I suspect they can.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 8:26PM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

I think I would have used leaf mould, or mature compost, in place of peat-moss. And I would have added sharp grit to the mix and incorporated the bulb food all through before I planted up the bulbs. (And I'm very happy to be wrong on this... Your system could work out well.)

When it comes to plunging the pots into the ground - perhaps on a layer of coarse pebbles to improve drainage. Soggy pots in spring could be a source of non-performance.

Once they have flowered - have you got a sunny place to put the pots while the bulbs finish their grow cycle? Out of the public eye is always good - even on the roof of a shed or stand-alone garage if it's safe for you to put them there and retrieve them.

There's often a tension between a big enough pot for the display you want to achieve - and the sheer effort needed to renew the planting at a later date. Plus moving the pots around. (A yard trolley with fat enough wheels to cope with grassed areas, paving, scrunchy gravel, and a low enough platform to ease the effort is a very useful investment, IMO.)

If you bear in mind that at least every two years, preferably annually, you need to decant the bulbs and thin out the numbers. There will be offsets to grow on and larger ones to replant for the coming season.

Some varieties can be shy about repeat flowering in pots. You might need to plant them out into 'real dirt' to get them to flower again, if they're delightful enough to keep. Check all performance of your bulbs in 2013, once they've done a full cycle of growing in a pot.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 3:37AM
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@ pizzuti
I haven't had much time for the really big alliums so I can't comment. I hadn't noticed any difference in following year performance of A. cristophii or karataviense. Also no observed difference with A. aflatunense & flavum. If anything, I should be cutting off seed heads as they have very quickly seeded themselves around the garden.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 1:22PM
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