The Q&A Archives: Flowering Bulbs

Question: I just bought some tulip, hyacinth and daffodil bulbs at the store. They are already growing about 4-6 inches out of the bulb. What is the best way to plant these bulbs for continued growth and flowering? I was thinking of containers for indoor enjoyment. And after they are finished blooming, can I plant them outside for flowers again next year? I've heard forced bulbs don't last long or even another season.

Answer: What you heard is right - forced bulbs rarely grow well a second year. If the sprouting bulbs are planted immediately, they should put on a flower show this spring. Or, you can plant them in pots for an indoor show, then toss them after they bloom. Each bulb already has a baby flower inside it. If, after bloom, you allow the foliage to remain until it yellows and withers naturally, the bulb will store enough energy to produce a bloom for next year. But, stressed bulbs will not perform, so if you want repeat blooms you'll need to plant the bulbs outdoors right away instead of keeping them indoors.

Plant by burying the bulb so that the foliage is above ground, then water them in well. After flowering, when the foliage dies down naturally you should dig the bulbs and store them, or plant them at their customary depth to winter over in your garden. A good rule of thumb is to plant them twice as deep as they are wide.

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