Tulips in spring
March 2, 2005 12:33 PM   Subscribe

Is it too late to plant tulips? I am in Salt Lake City, Utah and it's already starting to feel like spring. I have a big bag of tulip bulbs that I meant to plant last fall. Little green buds are starting to show. Should I give it a shot now? If they don't come up this spring, is there a chance they will come up next spring? I'm not sure what type of bulb they are.
posted by jacobsee to Home & Garden (20 answers total)
Absolutely do not plant them; they will not grow/bloom. Bulbs require the temperature change that fall-winter-spring bring in order to grow. Keep them in a cool, dry, dark place until fall, and plant them then.
posted by Specklet at 12:38 PM on March 2, 2005

Response by poster: So even if they sprout a bit over the next several months they will still be ok to plant next fall? If I plant them now, won't they still bloom next spring, even if they don't bloom this year?
posted by jacobsee at 12:43 PM on March 2, 2005

If you plant them now, they will grow but not bloom, and then they might bite the big one. Under these conditions, getting blooms next spring seems doubtful. If you keep them in a cool, dark, dry place, they may sprout a little more, but they'll be okay to plant in the fall.
posted by Specklet at 12:56 PM on March 2, 2005

I also forgot (procrastinated) to plant my spring bulbs. Would it be possible to plant them in pots indoors and then replant outside in a couple of months?
posted by Juicylicious at 1:06 PM on March 2, 2005

You could try forcing them indoors. I'm not sure that it would work though: people usually force tulips to bloom early, not to bloom late. Also, forced tulips rarely bloom again, even if planted in the ground.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:28 PM on March 2, 2005

Juicylicious, are you talking about bulbs you're supposed to plant in the fall (tulips, paperwhites, daffodils, hyacinth)? If yes, don't plant 'em; see my comments above. If, by chance, you're talking about the few odd ducks that need to be planted in spring (dahlia bulbs, for one), then plant them outdoors when the internal soil temperature isn't going below 40 or 45.

Forcing might work, but I think mr_roboto's right: they won't bloom again.
posted by Specklet at 1:46 PM on March 2, 2005

It's an assortment of bulbs that I had to dig up last summer when I reorganized my garden. I'm storing them in a paper bag in my basement (cool, dry, dark). Will they still be good to plant next fall?
posted by Juicylicious at 1:58 PM on March 2, 2005

Yeah, they'll be fine.

A tip: when it comes time to plant 'em, don't plant them too deep. If you do, the bulb will expend most of its energy getting to the surface, and your blooms will be wimpy...
posted by Specklet at 2:06 PM on March 2, 2005

Response by poster: ok, so my basement is the most likely place to store them...should I just hang them in the netted bag or should I put them in a plastic bag.

should I worry more about them drying out or getting too wet/moldy?
posted by jacobsee at 2:17 PM on March 2, 2005

Response by poster: I'm storing them in a paper bag in my basement (cool, dry, dark).

ah, a paper bag is a good idea...
posted by jacobsee at 2:18 PM on March 2, 2005

jacobsee, my grandmother the preeminent gardner taught me that you have to store all bulbs in a paper bag so that they don't get moldy.
posted by Juicylicious at 2:31 PM on March 2, 2005

If they were super-duper prize-winning bulbs, you'd coat them with paraffin and store them in vermiculite, but I've always gone the good ole' paper bag in the basement route. Heh.

BTW, if you're really itching to get some bulbs to plant, get summer bulbs like fresias (heavenly smell), dahlias (beautiful big blooms), or ranunculus (my faves), which you can plant later this month...
posted by Specklet at 3:23 PM on March 2, 2005

I don't think that fresias grow in my zone and for some reason I've never had success with dahlias. I can't plant bulbs until the ground softens, usually late April. I'll give your suggestions a try.
posted by Juicylicious at 4:28 PM on March 2, 2005

Actually, I'm going to respectfully disagree with Specklet, and say that the tulips will be fine if you plant them soon (don't wait for the ground to thaw, plant them in a pot indoors). You're right, they won't bloom this year. The cold dormant period is only required to get them to bloom, it shouldn't affect their vitality. What will injure them is prolonged growth without a substrate (soil) or energy input (sunlight). So, plant them and put them in a sunny window until it's warm enough, then plant them outside.
posted by nprigoda at 6:31 PM on March 2, 2005

I have a bit of a problem. I put all of my bulbs together in one bag and I have no idea which are tulips.
posted by Juicylicious at 9:11 AM on March 3, 2005

Hmm. nprigoda may be right. In which case, Juicy, you could plant all of them. If they're all spring-blooming bulbs, what works for tulips will work for the others.
posted by Specklet at 9:30 AM on March 3, 2005

I have a feeling that I'll be relying on Specklet & nprigoda quite a bit this spring :-)
posted by Juicylicious at 12:45 PM on March 3, 2005

Happy to help any time! My grad degree in botany is actually useful sometimes!!
posted by nprigoda at 10:15 AM on March 4, 2005

Oh, and Juicylicious, if you need help differentiating between the bulbs, do a google image search for "tulip bulb" or "daffodil bulb" (or whatever else you think you may have in that bag) to get pictures. They do look different, and you'll probably be able to sort them out.
posted by nprigoda at 10:17 AM on March 4, 2005

Response by poster: so i thought i was going to try to get them planted but still haven't so i'll fall on the backup plan of storing them in the basement until fall. both options sound viable, thatnks for the advice!
posted by jacobsee at 10:31 PM on March 18, 2005

« Older Quarter-Life Crisis: How did you handle it?   |   AnimationFilter Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.