It is time to buy fall bulbs like Tulips and Daffodils (and there are so many minor bulbs to choose from also). Buy them now while the selection is good. Bulbs should be firm and free from grey or black mold. Always buy the largest bulbs you can find. Small Tulip and Daffodil bulbs give you small flowers. Some varieties of bulbs are naturally small and shouldn’t be overlooked because of size. Check with us if you are in doubt and we’ll help you find the best for your garden.
The planting depth should be 2.5 times the height of the bulb. A 2 inch tall bulb should be planted with the base of the bulb at 5 inches below the soil surface (don’t include any mulch depth). You can stagger your blooming time by planting a layer of bulbs below or above the bulbs planted at 5” deep; however some bulbs will not bloom if planted too deep. Digging a large hole and loosening the soil is very important, especially with bulbs that multiply rapidly. Avoid adding soil amendments that might hold water, loosening and replacing the existing soil is really all you need to do. Be careful with bulb fertilizer. Fertilizer should not come in contact with the bulb. The hole should be dug several inches deeper than needed and your fertilizer should be mixed with the soil. Then add a thin layer of soil and place your bulb on top.
Many people like to use bone meal when they plant bulbs. We also recommend Espoma Bulb Tone as a well balanced organic fertilizer. When adding soil on top the bulb, firm it in place but resist the desire to stomp it down. All of these bulbs prefer full sun, but some will tolerate and bloom in part shade gardens, primarily because the foliage on many comes up before the leaves have emerged on the trees and they receive a number of weeks of full sun before being partially shaded.
There’s a lot of important information on a package of Tulips. Color sells them, but Tulips are available in early, mid and late spring bloomers and a variety of heights from 12” or less to 30” or so tall and all that info can be found on the package. You can, with just a little careful planning, have tulips flowers for most of the spring. If there is just one variety you are in love with, plant 3 layers of bulbs, one on top of the other and nearly triple your season.
Tulips are annuals here, as a matter of fact, they are annuals almost everywhere. Even in Holland they are dug and stored in coolers to prevent them from rotting in the summer heat. If you plant 100 bulbs and get 10 to return (and maybe 2 to bloom) you’ve been very lucky. Tulips need about 14 weeks of cold to have uniform stem height. You shouldn’t plant before Thanksgiving because the ground is warm enough for them to sprout and be damaged. Often though, we don’t have enough cold, so it is best to buy them now and store them in a refrigerator until late November. There should be no ripening fruit in the fridge. Ethylene gas released by ripening fruit will destroy tulip flower.
Daffodils, also known by their botanical name narcissus, are easy and reliable spring-flowering bulbs. They multiply quickly and return to bloom again each spring, year after year. They are not fussy about soil, will grow in sun or shade and are not bothered by deer, rabbits and other pesky critters. Yellow is by far the most common color for Daffodils, but the blossoms also come in other colors such as white, cream, orange and even pink. There are several different flower types, including trumpets, doubles, split-cups, and large-cups. Planting an assortment of different types of daffodils will give you 4 to 6 weeks of beautiful flowers every spring. It is not critical to chill Daffodils. Unlike Tulips, Daffodils can be planted without going through a chilling process; however, spring growth and blooming could be sporadic. This should correct to a more normal growth pattern by year two.
Daffodils are in bloom weeks before most perennials. Planting some bulbs in your flower beds will ensure you have flowers as soon as the weather begins to warm up. Miniature Daffodils are a good choice for perennial gardens as their foliage matures more quickly than standard types. Daffodils are traditionally planted in yards and gardens, but they also grow well in containers. This makes it easy to add instant spring charm to porches, patios or small urban gardens. In zones 8 and colder, potted bulbs need winter protection to keep the soil from freezing, and they come back reliably every year and are not bothered by deer or rodents.
Daffodils should be planted in late November after soil temperatures have dropped. If planted earlier, warm soil will cause bulbs to germinate prematurely. Dig a hole 6” deep. Set the Daffodil bulb into the hole pointy side up. Cover the bulb with soil and water the area if the soil is dry. Daffodils look best when they are planted in informal groups rather than in straight rows. Clusters of bulbs in a triangular, oval or rectangular shape will have a fuller, more natural look. Daffodils prefer well-drained soil, though they will grow almost anywhere.
To enjoy the Daffodil season for as long as possible, select varieties that bloom at different times (early, mid and late season). An assortment of different varieties will ensure new flowers are opening as others are fading. Daffodil bulbs develop roots in the fall and then go dormant until early spring. Depending where you live, you can expect the leaves to begin emerging from the soil as early as February or as late as May. Early-blooming varieties will appear sooner than late-blooming varieties. In spring, the first thing you will see emerging from the soil is the tips of the leaves. Daffodil foliage is very cold hardy and not harmed by snow or freezing temperatures. When the foliage is several inches tall, the flower buds will begin to emerge from the base of the plant. The stems will gradually get taller, the buds will get larger and begin to show color and start opening. Depending on weather conditions, you can expect this process to take 3-6 weeks.
The first spring after planting, most Daffodil bulbs will produce from one to three flowers. Over time the bulbs will divide and multiply, giving you an ever more impressive show of color. If the clumps become very large, flower production may decrease. The best time to dig, divide, and replant the clumps is right after flowering. Daffodils are very hardy in our mid south zones 7-8 and do not need to be dug out at the end of the season. Once planted, the bulbs will bloom again every spring, usually in increasing numbers. Follow these simple tips to enjoy your daffodils for many years to come.
- Once the flowers have wilted you can snap off the spent blooms. This step is not essential, but it will help to keep the plants looking neat.
- Allow the foliage to continue growing until it dies back naturally. Daffodil bulbs use their foliage to store energy so they can produce more flowers the following year.
- Once the foliage has withered and lost its green color, it can be cut back to soil level.
We stock a large variety of packaged and loose bulbs. For the best selection, buy early and store in a cool dry place. To help bulbs prepare for planting and blooming, store in the refrigerator until soil temperatures are right for planting.
Along with a wide variety of Tulips and Daffodils, we also stock:
- Spider Lilly