Planting Bulbs - Knowledgebase Question

Iowa City, IA
Question by BCoffeyIA
October 31, 1997
Is too late in the season to plant bulbs (we have already had snow in Iowa)? Is it better to go ahead and plant or should the bulbs be stored in a cool place?


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Answer from NGA
October 31, 1997

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You are correct, ideally bulbs should be planted 6 weeks before the first frost to allow them enough time to develop a root system before winter. Now, let's talk about breaking this rule. This fall has been unusually warm in many parts of the country, and as long as warm weather follows the freeze, you can get away with planting bulbs late. If you are having weather in the 50s now, it's worth planting. If cold temperatures are the norm, it would be better to pot up some of the daffodils and tulips and crocuses and force them into flower inside during the winter. If forcing isn't an option, the bulbs should be kept in a dark, cool location (about 35-40 degrees F) for the winter. Then they should be planted outside in early spring. They may notflower well the first year, but flowering may improve thereafter.

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