Winter/Spring Bulb Planting Planning
As we head into the end of the year many of my plants are starting to fade in the garden. Once Winter sets in it will seem rather bare for months until Spring arrives. My antidote for this is to plan for spring bulbs. I know that we're barely into Fall, so it may seem ridiculous to already start talking about Winter and Spring. but when it comes to bulbs planning is needed because they're available now. And while some varieties will be available until November or even December for the biggest selection you want to buy them early. There's also some pre-planning involved to get them to bloom when you want. I'm planning to force some indoors as well as planting some outdoors so I thought I'd give a run down of the different kinds and the timing for each of them.
This year I purchased four different kinds of bulbs for outdoor planting - Snow Drops, Crocuses, Daffodils, Anemones, and Ranunculus. They will all bloom on slightly different schedules but all of them will go into pots outside at the same time. Because I live in USDA Zone 9 (if you don't know what I'm talking about click here) I'm going to wait until December or even January to plant them. If you live in a colder climate you'll need to plant them earlier, before the ground freezes - anywhere from September to November. Until then I will be storing them in a dark, dry, cool place.
The bulbs I purchased for indoor use are Amaryllis, Paper Whites (Narcissus), and Daffodils. I'm planning on three different bloom times for these. Each one has slightly different requirements when it comes to forcing them.
Forcing means to trick a plant into thinking it's time to bloom by simulating the required temperature changes. Basically simulating winter and then spring. Many bulbs require chilling in order to do this, but there are a couple that don't. Better Homes and Gardens has a great guide here.
Amaryllis are tropical flowers so they don't need to be chilled. They do, however, take 6-8 weeks to flower once they're planted. Since I want mine to bloom around Christmas I'm going to plant them at the beginning of November, as soon as I'm back from vacation.
Paper Whites are another one that don't need to be chilled. Their bloom time is 3-5 weeks once they're planted. I'm not actually going to put these in soil, but use vases with rocks and water instead. I want these to bloom around New Year's, vases full of green shoots are lovely in the dreary January days after the bustle and excitement of the holidays, so I'll start them around the second week in December.
Daffodils require a chill time of a minimum 2-3 weeks. I'll be storing mind in a brown paper bag in my parent's garage which is un-insulated. You can store them in the refrigerator, but if you keep fruit in your fridge you can end up inadvertently sterilizing them due to the ethylene gas fruit releases. I'll also be putting these in vases with rocks and water. Their bloom time is also 3-5 weeks. I want these to bloom in early February, for a little pick me up before the garden starts to bloom in March, so I'll start them around the second week of January.
So my planting schedule looks like this:
Amaryllis - plant Nov 7
bloom around Dec 25
Paper Whites - plant around Dec 10
bloom around Jan 1
Daffodils - plant around Jan 14
bloom around Feb 1
Rananuculs, Crocuses, Snow Drops, and Anemones for outdoors - plant around Dec 15
bloom January to April
The best place to get bulbs is a local nursery but there are tons of online resources as well. I bought my Paper Whites, Daffodils and Anemones from DutchGrown.com and my Amaryllis from Amaryllis and Caladium Bulb Co.
I'll post updates here about the different planting techniques I'm using and how they bloom later int he year. There's something so satisfying about watching a plant grow from seed. Let me know if you're planning on growing any bulbs this year and what kinds you've picked.
This is not a sponsored post. All opinions expressed above are my own.
Photo by Sophia Dunkin-Hubby