The Q&A Archives: Tips for Planting Bulbs Late

Question: Is there a tip for planting bulbs late, like now and will they still bloom? I heard something about keeping them in the refrigerator and then planting them. Creale Kirkland, WA

Answer: Bulbs need a rest period of 12-16 weeks of low temperatures for root growth for nutrient and water absorption and the initiation of a small amount of leaf growth. Ideally, 3-4 weeks of ~50 degrees F followed by temperatures that gradually drop close tofreezing (33-35 degrees F.) If you plant them outdoors now they would not get that requisite cold period. You can refrigerate them to satisfy the cold requirement, but they probably will bloom later than ones outside considering the late date. Plant them in bulb pots (plant at a depth so the necks are above the soil line) in potting soil with a tsp. of 5-10-5 dry fertilizer added/quart of soil, water and let thoroughly drain and then place in the fridge. When you see growth, remove and place in acool (50-55 degrees F.) place with indirect sunlight for a week or two. When the shoots are 4-6 inches tall move the pots to a sunny window, When the flower buds take on color, move the plants back into indirect sunlight to make the blossoms last. After the flowers have faded, remove them, return the pots to the coolest sunny place in the house and water less and less...just enough to keep the leaves green until they wither. Leave the bulbs in the pots (keep dry) while dormant and then plant in the fall.

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