December 1, 2016

Is it Too Late/Too Warm/Too Cold to Plant my Flower Bulbs?

plant tulips, daffodils and spring bulbs from mid November to mid December.
The end of November and the first part of December is the optimal time to plant tulips, daffodils and spring bulbs.
A couple of weeks ago, I did a segment on 4 YOUR GARDEN (here for past segments) on tulip and spring flower bulb planting and if it was too warm to do so. You can watch the episode below. Now that December and colder weather has finally arrived,  I am being asked if it is too LATE to plant tulips, daffodils and other flower bulbs for spring bloom. 

Hundreds of bulbs from Colorblends.com await planting in my front flower beds.
Hundreds of bulbs from Colorblends.com await planting in my front flower beds.
Well. NO! Mid-November to mid-December is the perfect time here in the South and in Oklahoma to plant spring blooming bulbs!



I usually try to get my 800 tulips and other flower bulbs in the ground just before Thanksgiving for two reasons: I like to have them tucked in before the mayhem of the Christmas season right after turkey, and because in OK, our ground temps have usually cooled enough to do so.

Dig large holes for planting multiple tulip bulbs spaced about 1.5-2" apart, to a depth of at least two and a half times the size of the bulb.
That said, while I had most of the tulips in the ground by then, my Snowflake (leucojum),

Tiny bells of leucojum flowers.
For more on Snowflakes and other white spring bloomers go to a post I wrote here about these dainty bloomers.
tiny iris reticulata, and tiny Star bulbs didn't get in the ground until yesterday. As long as the ground isn't frozen, you can tuck them in until Christmas. And if you haven't done it by then...


100 Sweet Carillon bulbs sit in a basket waiting to be planted.
This is the first time I have planted Spanish Bluebells and I am excited to see how they perform.
by all means continue into January (again, if the ground isn't frozen) to plant them. You don't want to find a large, or even small, quantity of bulbs hidden in your garage come spring because they didn't get in the ground. Planting in January, however, can be a cold and nasty experience for the gardener, and those sweet bulbs really do want more time to put out strong root growth...

When excavating dirt out of the garden or pot for bulb planting, use a tarp or towel to keep cleanup to a minimum.
When excavating dirt out of the garden or pot for bulb planting, use a tarp or towel to keep cleanup to a minimum.
so you would do well to get them into the garden or pots and containers as soon as possible and cross it off your list. Trust me, it is time well spent, and the anticipation of that much erupting beauty come spring will warm your cockles in the depths of winter.

I had extra Snowflake bulbs so I am tucking some in a winter hardy pot, planting deeply in good soil. I will mulch the top with leaves after doing so.
These miniature iris bulbs were tucked into a concrete window box with a box topiary and ivies.
These miniature iris bulbs were tucked into a concrete window box with a box topiary and ivies.
Since it has been especially dry this fall, I watered them in well after planting to get their roots off to a good start. I used to use a bulb food when planting, but no longer do. Since I treat my tulips as annuals, the bulbs themselves have all the nutrients they need to perform brilliantly.

Bulbs in a yellow mesh bag sit in a wicker basket waiting for their new home.
I like to save the mesh bags that my bulbs come in for later use. After washing them, I put them into service as produce bags for grocery shopping.
Waterproof red polkadot gloves make for cheery gardening.
Waterproof red polkadot gloves make for cheery gardening.

One more thing.  If planting in December, make sure your garden gloves are seasonally appropriate. :)

3 comments:

  1. We too have had such warm weather..but I went ahead and planted 150 tulip bulbs last weekend. And then the rain came!! It was perfect. I have always treated tulips as annuals; partly because I just love the color planning each year. I'm already looking forward to April!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. How I envy you your rain! What color scheme did you choose for next year?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh Linda, you won't believe what I did. I chose two separate color schemes, as I do every year because I have one larger garden/space and then across the brick path I have another, narrower, backed by white picket fence space. So I happened to order from two different suppliers for each space. Boxes sat in garage for several weeks. I went out and got a box and planted all those tulips in the larger garden. Hmmm. Gee, "I thought I had ordered more than this."
    WEnt back to garage for other box and OMG I just planted ALL the wrong bulbs in wrong space!!!! Well, too late to dig them up, right? So, I went ahead with the other garden and snuck some of those in first space. This is getting long winded...
    One color scheme is sort of sherbet; from Longfield in pinks and yellow/pinks. Other is from John Scheepers in deep, purple (Caravelle) with pretty pink and then white.
    Stay tuned til April 1 when I always host my women's group and they all come to see my tulips!!!! I will post it, for sure. So there you have it.

    ReplyDelete

Please leave a comment! I love to hear from you!