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How Deep for Bulbs?

By critterologist
March 30, 2015

You don't need to remember a lot of different rules to know how deep to plant your fall bulbs.

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Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Mar 30, 2015 6:26 AM CST
That's the rule I go by and it seems to work. Handy reminder, Jill. Thumbs up
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Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
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Oberon46
Mar 30, 2015 8:02 AM CST
I had heard that planting up here, I shouldn't plant them so very deep, like 8". And I know this gets asked often, but 8" from soil surface to top of bulb?
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Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Mar 30, 2015 8:20 AM CST
8" is very deep, Mary. None of my bulbs are anywhere that deep. I would guess the only reason to plant so deep is that the ground freezes and you might want the bulbs deeper than that freeze-line. Since our ground never truly freezes, I don't really know though.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
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Leftwood
Mar 31, 2015 8:49 AM CST
"Deep" is measured from the bottom of the bulb to the soil surface. But you're not the only one that gets confused, Mary. When general gardeners give advice, take it with a grain of salt, because they might be using the "other method" Whistling for depth, not knowing. (More often, they don't know the answer themselves, and are just repeating what they hear.) The smart ones that take the time and courtesy to explain a complete thought. They are the ones you want to befriend for advice.

Yes, in colder zones we plant deeper. But one can't plant "below the freeze-line in the soil". Mine, and Mary's , can be several feet deep! You are also confined to staying within the realm of good soil with ample drainage and aeration. The advantage of lower depths in cold zones is not as much temperature extremes, but temperature moderation, so seasonal changes in temperature happen more gradually and plant tissues have a sufficient time to adapt.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Mar 31, 2015 9:35 AM CST
Good explanation, Rick. Never having lived in an area that "really" freezes (soil, that is), other than what I read, I had no clue as to depth of planting. Thumbs up
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Mar 31, 2015 12:41 PM CST
"Yes, in colder zones we plant deeper. But one can't plant "below the freeze-line in the soil". "

Last winter (not this one that's just ending) the ground here was frozen 6 feet down! Hilarious!
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Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Mar 31, 2015 2:23 PM CST
Holy cow. How do you keep your pipes from freezing? Sticking tongue out
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Mar 31, 2015 6:10 PM CST
Freezing pipes was a huge issue up here that winter, LOTS of broken water pipes, including water mains in town... fortunately we had no problems at our house, though Smiling Our water line is buried pretty deeply, around 7 feet down, and we had a very heavy snow cover that year as well as the cold temps; most of the problems seemed to occur where people had plowed the snow so the pipes didn't have that insulating layer.

What I can't imagine is how people survived winters in the north in the "olden days." (they must have been a heck of a lot tougher than I am!)
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
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[Last edited by Weedwhacker - Apr 1, 2015 7:34 AM (+)]
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Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Mar 31, 2015 8:13 PM CST
Shoot, I don't know how you survive them today! If our pipes are buried three feet, that's deep! And the only reason they are three feet deep is so that people won't be digging them up. Two feet digging is the max for most of us. Sticking tongue out
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
Charter ATP Member Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped beta test the first seed swap Region: United States of America Region: Michigan
Seed Starter Vegetable Grower Birds Butterflies Dog Lover Cat Lover
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Weedwhacker
Mar 31, 2015 8:39 PM CST
I will say that I'm glad I don't have to use an outhouse... Hilarious!
"Blessed is he who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be entertained."
- John Powell / Cubits.org - A Universe of Communities
/ Share your recipes: Favorite Recipes A-Z cubit
C/F temp conversion / NGA Member Map
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Apr 1, 2015 5:58 AM CST
Boy, is that right! Whistling
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Critter (Jill)
MD (Zone 6b)
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critterologist
Apr 4, 2015 3:24 AM CST
especially during an UP winter!

This is one of the tips I submitted early on... Trish or Dave must have dug it up LOL.

I put some bulbs (daffs especially) into holes more like 2 to 3 times their diameter. In our clay soil, they just seem to do better planted a little more shallowly. My young garden helper does better with the idea that the bulbs need to end up deep enough that you could stack 2 bulbs on top of each other in the hole... or, however big the bulb is, that's how much soil needs to be on top of it once the hole is filled in. When the soil is most & soft, we just push "little bulbs" down in with a finger.

BTW, I've learned that lilies have contractile roots (how cool is that??) and will pull themselves down to their preferred depth. So if you're planting lilies this spring, you don't have to knock yourself out making 8 inch deep holes...
I'm learning to dance in the rain. Thank you, Sally & Chris.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Apr 4, 2015 6:00 AM CST
They wouldn't pull them selves down through my clay, Jill. Whistling
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Critter (Jill)
MD (Zone 6b)
We're all learners, doers, teachers
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critterologist
Jun 3, 2015 7:13 AM CST
They manage to go deeper in my clay soil, which is pretty dense even where it's been amended. Roots are strong! I can dig holes 5" or 6" deep, but in many garden areas that's about it, because if I go lower I'm in subsoil-type clay -- and I'm pretty sure bulbs would drown, starve, & die in that stuff!
I'm learning to dance in the rain. Thank you, Sally & Chris.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Jun 3, 2015 7:58 AM CST
Thumbs up
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.

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