Planting & Care
When to Plant
With the exception of amaryllis and paperwhites, all of the flowerbulbs we
offer are spring-flowering bulbs that MUST be planted in fall (Sept.-Dec.,
depending on your climate). Unless you select a specific shipping date, we
ship your bulbs at the proper time for planting: when soil temperatures in
your area are approaching 55 degrees F.
We recommend that you plant your bulbs when you receive them. If you can't
plant right away, open all of the boxes so that air can get to the bulbs
and keep them in a dry, dark, cool place with good air circulation.
Temperatures between 50 degrees and 60 degrees F are ideal, but your bulbs
should be fine within a range of 38 degrees to 70 degrees F.You can delay
planting for several weeks if you have to, but remember: The bulbs MUST be
planted before the onset of winter.
Choosing a Site
There are two key considerations when choosing a site for bulbs.
Most bulbs need ample sunshine to bloom well next spring and to
store up the energy required to flower in future springs. Many
bulbs--including crocuses and bluebells--can be planted beneath
deciduous trees; these bulbs are able to satisfy most of their light
needs before the trees leaf out. (See each item we offer for
specific light requirements.)
All bulbs need good drainage; never plant bulbs where water
collects. The drainage of heavy clay soils may be improved by
digging in organic matter such as compost or composted manure.
How to Plant
There are two principal ways of planting bulbs.
Planting a bed
Excavate the area to be planted and loosen the soil in the bottom.
Set the bulbs in the bed, following the spacing recommendations
provided in our Planting & Care Instructions sheet. Replace the soil. If
the soil is dry, water thoroughly.
Planting bulbs individually
Dig a hole with a trowel, auger or bulb planter. Drop the bulb (or
bulbs--small bulbs such as those of eranthis or anemones can be
planted in threes or fours) into the hole. Replace the soil. If the
soil is dry, water thoroughly after planting.
NOTE: Don't worry too much about which end is up on a
bulb. Bulbs know to send shoots up and roots down. They will grow and
bloom even if you plant them upside down.
Bulbs need ample moisture from fall, when they make new roots, until they
finish flowering in spring. If the soil is dry at planting time, water
thoroughly after planting. Thereafter water only if rainfall is scarce.
Stop watering after the bulbs bloom. Supplemental irrigation after
bloom--especially in the Deep South--may cause bulbs to rot.
The bulbs we ship already have next year's flowers set inside them, so
there's no need to fertilize at planting time. If you intend for your
bulbs to be long-term players in your landscape, you may want to fertilize
them in early spring, when the shoots begin to push through the soil. We
suggest that you have your soil tested first to identify any nutrient
deficiencies and that you correct those deficiencies with an organic
fertilizer, which will release nutrients slowly. Most bulbs are not heavy
feeders. You can generally do without fertilizer entirely if you mulch
your bulbs annually with 2-3 inches of an organic material such as
compost, shredded bark, aged wood chips or shredded leaves.
Care After Bloom
After your bulbs bloom, you may remove the spent flowers or seed heads if
they are unsightly (in the case of tulips, removing the seed heads may
also help to encourage the bulbs to flower again the following year), but
you must allow the foliage to die back naturally (spring-flowering bulbs
go dormant in summer, reappearing the following spring). If you cut, braid
or tie up the foliage before it yellows and withers, you prevent the bulbs
from producing the energy they will need to grow and bloom again next
year. Of course, if you intend to lift and discard tulip bulbs after they
bloom and replant in the fall, there's no need to wait for the foliage to
Amaryllis and paperwhites are grown primarily as indoor bulbs--i.e., they
are planted in pots and kept indoors to provide winter color (and, in the
case of paperwhites, fragrance). For information on planting and caring
for these bulbs, see our Planting & Care Instructions sheet.