The Q&A Archives: Bulbs for fall planting

Question: New to gardening, my daughter gave me a set of bulbs for Christmas (2007)that should have been planted in the fall. Knowing I would be moving, I didn't plant them in the spring either. *Now* what should I do with them? They are tulips, alium, daffodils, hyacinth.

I just moved to the St. Louis area and have much to learn. Thanks for helping!

Answer: I'm afraid I'm not holding out much hope for your unplanted bulbs. Here's why: bulbs are basically storage organs. When they are stored in a cool place for a few months they rest. After being planted, they wake up from their dormancy and use their stored energy to produce a stem, some leaves and a flower. This process uses up all of their stored energy. The leaves, through the process of photosynthesis, transport energy from the sun back into bulb, for use the following year. When a bulb is not planted it slowly uses up the stored energy until it is completely depleted. So, rather than plant your old bulbs, I'd replace them with healthy new bulbs. Bulbs are available in the fall, usually from September through November. Purchase healthy new bulbs and plant them immediately. Next spring you'll have lovely flowers (and unless you tell your daughter, she'll never know!).

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