February 18, 2014

Bare Root Bulbs and Perennials


Just a hint of spring...a few days of glorious sunshine...and we gardeners are
out like a pack of rabid dogs...in the garden...and in garden centers. Container plants are still understandably in short supply,


but bare root bulbs and perennials are shouting at us to BUY ME!!!  until something better comes along. We are tempted by the gorgeous photos (like the dahlias above) on the labels. All that potential in what looks like just a humble bag of peat.



But do we heed their beckoning? Are they worth even the modest investment?


In my experience, bare root perennials can be a pocketbook-friendly way to get started on your spring gardening...planting them in early spring while they are still in dormancy, so they can 'wake up' in your garden beds.


Here are some tips to get your money's worth:

 * BUY FRESH: Check the plants or tubers for moisture content and weight. The heavier (but not soggy), the better). The longer they are out on the shelf, the drier and less viable they  become.

* LOOK AT THE ROOTS: Light, plump, fleshy and firm is what you're looking for. Mushiness or crispiness is a no-go, though a little mold is not a problem generally.


 * LOOK FOR DORMANT PLANTS AND BULBS:  A hint of green may tempt you, but a fully dormant plant is generally more reliable.

* PLANT ASAP; IF NOT STORE PROPERLY: Plant or heel in your purchase as soon as possible...with the same care and attention as you would provide any container grown specimen. If that's not possible, store in a cool, dark, dry location until you, and your back...and garden are ready.


As you may have gleaned from my pictures, I have had wonderful luck with dahlias that started out as bare root wannabes. True joys of my 2013 late summer and fall garden. For more recommendations, tips, and cautionary information,


watch last week's 4 YOUR GARDEN episode on Bare root Perennials and Bulbs. 



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