The Q&A Archives: Forgot to Plant Bulbs

Question: The bulbs (hyacinths, tulips, daffodils) I purchased last summer never found their way into the ground in the fall. If I plant them in the early spring, will they produce flowers this spring or would I be better off waiting until the next fall to plant them?

Answer: That's one of those "six of one," "half a dozen of another" questions. Those spring bulbs need both the chilling of winter temperatures and the time in the ground to establish good root systems to have a flush of spring bloom. So if you plant them in early spring, they may not do much. However, they also need to produce foliage, which helps the bulb store energy for the next year. If you just hold them until next fall, the bulbs themselves will likely dry out, lose their vigor, etc. If they were my bulbs, I'd plant them in pots right now, and when spring temperatures return, place the containers outside. Let the bulbs grow in the pots, and after the foliage naturally browns and dries during the summer months, transplant them to an outdoor bed.

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