kato_b

How goes this autumn's bulb planting?

katob Z6ish, NE Pa
3 months ago

Just wondering who's gone off the deep end as far as buying and planting way too many bulbs this fall.

I for one have been remarkably responsible so far. There's just a few tulips and alliums sitting in bags waiting, as well as a few hyacinth which I dug up last summer. If I can make it through the clearance sales in November this might be the most relaxed bulb planting season ever!

Now if I can just start planting all the potted stuff which followed me home last month...

Comments (106)

  • biondanonima (Zone 7a Hudson Valley)

    We actually have a fairly small, very narrow lot, but due to being built into the side of a hill, there is no yard at all - just garden beds and various terraces between retaining walls. Not having grass gives you lots of room for bulbs! :)

  • katob Z6ish, NE Pa

    Hmm. I just received the shipping confirmation for a Van Engelen order, I also noticed they had their clearance sale going on and cracked faster than I imagined I could. It seemed like such a good idea last night.

    Temperatures have dropped into the teens so we'll see what happens. As most know, Van Engelen is a bulk seller, so my fingers are crossed the ground thaws again before Christmas, otherwise I'm going to need some more potting soil...

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  • Linda's Garden z6 Utah

    Katob, how many did you order? I looked at the website and then decided I didn't want 100 of the same bulb so I didn't order. We are still having nice weather with lows in the upper 30's or even 40's. Maybe I'll look around and see if I can find more on clearance locally.

  • MYAL plantLOVER

    Muscari can be very invasive, but I don't know much about the new variants of which there are plenty. I'm waiting for the end of November too and then I will pounce!

  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

    I wasn't going to do any new bulbs this autumn ...but the Greigii tulips were three for two and I seem to have got 60 for the window boxes. And a few prepared hyacinths for glasses. A couple of hundred Allium Sentation for DDs wedding went in weeks ago. They'll probably flower at the wrong time and I'll end up buying flowers from the florist after all.

  • MYAL plantLOVER

    60 for window boxes! Are you Carol Klein? Hahaha!

  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

    Three boxes. Two clumps per box. 10 bulbs in each clump. Basic rule with bulbs in containers imo is that you can never plant too densely.

  • Mel D

    I restrained myself and only bought a dozen hyacinths for forcing, a package of paperwhites for forcing, and a few packages of squill, camus, and little narcissus. A few went into vancant spots in the yard, but most are in pots. I look forward to seeing how the bloom sequence goes. Two years ago the earliest bulbs started in January, but last year was much colder and I didn't see anything until late Feb/early March.

  • MYAL plantLOVER

    Just got the first shipment from Farmer Gracy! Have some tulip Ice Cream white. I myself like single, but as this icecream tulip is fairly new to me and it's cheapER! 5 bulbs instead of the one bulb for about £5, so I happily snapped it up. My hands are still with cold and it's like freezing in my kitchen. I took tons of cuttings from my Salvias. But I'd better not digress. Suffice to say, it's very cold today! Then there is a lilac Muscari from Farmer Gracy. If someone told me that I would buy muscari before this month, I would never have believed it. But this year, I bought TWO. Hope they won't be omnipresent like the other more common one which took over my raised bed! I literally dug them up, pulverised the milky bulbs into a paste .. I hate myself for doing that, but it's like killing a mouse .. Your heart rate goes up knowing that you're killing something with unnatural relish ...

  • schoolhouse_gwagain

    I hate myself for doing that, but it's like killing a mouse .. Your
    heart rate goes up knowing that you're killing something with unnatural
    relish ...

    Ha ha ha, while I don't necessarily relish killing a mouse, I do dislike muscari SO much.

    I planted the pink Ice Cream Tulip and was very happy with them. However they failed to return for me except for one or two that were stunted. Probably did not plant them in a ideal location. Let me know how yours do.

  • MYAL plantLOVER

    I think I will see if I can propagate the tulip bulbs next year, schoolhouse! I aim not to buy, buy and buy again. That's why I spent yesterday taking cuttings. Will let you know. I wish I had leaf mould and tons of grit as that's why tulips want. Perhaps squirrels dug them up or some other critters were too hungry. Squirrels here run across my glass roof all the times. In fact, they ran across my old fence so much that the top bit has been all removed. I began to think I don't own my garden - foxes scream mating, leave calling cards wherever they like, cats stare at me even though I shoo them .. squirrels plant peanuts in all my pots...

  • katob Z6ish, NE Pa

    Well... (after the ground started to freeze) I bought 50 'spryng break' tulips, 10 allium nigrum 'Pink Jewel' and a few galanthus elwesii. I'm too embarrassed to admit how many of the galanthus I bought, but just like all the others it's far more than I need and they are unplanted. I did plant one of the galanthus bulbs. It had sprouted in the bag, maybe 3 inches and I'm hoping it's a fall blooming form so it's potted up on the garage windowsill and we'll see what happens.

    Speaking of snowdrops, rather than plant the bulbs I have, I jumped in the car Saturday for a ride down to the Philly area to see some more in bloom.

    Fall blooming snowdrops are a thing, and it's cool to see them coming up and in full bloom amongst the fallen leaves. The person I visited grows them mostly in a greenhouse though.

    There were hardy cyclamen as well. I may have taken a few of those home, but that would be ridiculous considering how many other to-be-planted things I've accumulated in the last few days.

    MYA your garden sounds kind of fun with all that activity going on. I hope the animals don't do too much damage! Tulips can be tricky but I find digging them and keeping them dry for the summer helps, it's just a lot of work. I may take floral's lead and plant mine all in pots. I just have to keep them in the garage until they're rooted and then find a spot to hold them cold until spring.


  • MYAL plantLOVER

    You're so lucky to have seen so many dainties at this time of the year, Katob! Here, the nursery is still the same recipe again.






    The same 3 snowdrops! Really boring! I have decided not to buy any and comes next May, I will twin scale what I've already got. But I must, MUST, add some slug repellents to my snowdrops. Seeing all that grit in your photos panics me no need! My addiction is bleeding me dry! I always think adding grit or vermiculite or perlite is a gimmick! I think the suppliers must have slipped some money to these gardening presenters or seed companies to ask them to say "add grit" or "add vermiculite"! Fancy how our forefathers / mothers gardened without these extras! I was so mean that I just scattered my coffee grinds, free from cafe up the road, (sparingly) under a tray and it actually worked better than gravels. After removing the trays, I found 3 fat spotty and stripey slugs sitting on my gravel, and yet none on the coffee grinds! Coffee grinds 1 - gravel 0. If I digress, please don't slap me on the wrist! Hehe!

  • MYAL plantLOVER

    Saw some nerines flowering and the pink was just out of this world in these dreary, dank and dull days. I was given some and they have just finished flowering. Something worth looking out for when you go bulb bargain hunting. Can wait till the end of November to start my hunt in earnest. Anybody knows how to multiply the bulbs please?

  • harold100

    I found this on the web.

    Nerines can be propagated by division, seed or chipping. Lift congested clumps in early summer and divided. Nerines may be raised from seed which should be sown as soon as it is ripe

  • MYAL plantLOVER

    Thank you so much. I did a bit of research myself and would plant them in plenty of grit and in full sunshine. I was very surprised to see nerines flowering in hot summer!


    Your post is just in time for me to catch the seeds. I have one in allotment and one at home. Must check for seeds. Good post, harold!

  • harold100

    You are certainly welcome. It was interesting to look it up and see the photo. I barely recall hearing of Nerines a long time ago. I never knew anyone who grew them.

  • MYAL plantLOVER



    Fancy seeing a line of these delicate pink beauties in these cold grey winter days! I must divide and multiply!

  • katob Z6ish, NE Pa

    The nerines are beautiful, the snowdrops are nice as well, but like you say kind of boring especially if you're buying a named variety for more money.

    I have yet to plant my tulips. Maybe over the Thanksgiving holiday... or at this rate, Christmas.

  • MYAL plantLOVER

    My saffron crocus bulbs arrived an hour earlier. I only bought them because they were cheap. £1.60 for 10, so I bought 3 lots. Hopefully, I can harvest my own saffron to cook rice with. Happy just thinking of that. Got my gardening shoes, gloves and planted some and before I finished, the heavens opened, again!

  • MYAL plantLOVER

    Love this video about galanthus.

  • katob Z6ish, NE Pa

    Haha, I just spent a good 30 minutes watching videos about snowdrops. I could have used another 30 but ran through all the decent ones I could find :)

    There was still some light out after work and the weather was decent so suddenly all the bulbs were in the ground! Most of the tulips are in pots, buried in a leaf mulch pile, the rest are in spots that I can remember today but will likely surprise me this spring after I forget.

    The only fall blooming snowdrop which doesn't seem to mind being out in the open garden rather than somewhere warmer. Galanthus peshmenii according to the tag, although I wouldn't know any better if it were labeled differently. A nice Thanksgiving treat in an otherwise unexciting garden.

  • mazerolm_3a

    I googled nerine, these are new to me. They’re gorgeous! I wish they were hardy enough for me! (-40 Celsius).

  • MYAL plantLOVER

    mazerom: -40c! I want to cry for you! Perhaps, use a pot. If you use a pot and add tons of polystyrene material to the bottom and edges... Do I sound mad? When I sold my plants at a boot sale, a man from SE Asia asked me why I had polystyrene in the pot. I said it would raise the temperature. Some gardeners (of which I am NOT one!) really hate the idea, especially when plant roots grow through them. I love using polystyrene trays as they give the seeds a head start. Each to his/her own. Hope headmistress not going to give me a slap in the wrist. There is always one or two in every single forum.


    katob I am amazed how early your snowdrop is. In my fav gc, they are selling pot £5.99 with several tips showing. I have decided against buying any. In this part of the country, all have for sale are Nivalli, Woronii and Elwesii and it's rare to see even Flore Peno. You're very lucky to be able to drive to a place where they grow all these lovely dainties, Katob.

  • mazerolm_3a

    @MYAL plantLOVER: I’m too lazy for pots! :). And while my gardening season is shorter, it means my weeding season is shorter as well! :)

  • MYAL plantLOVER

    I understand the indifference to pots. I would like all my plants to be free ranged as well - they stretch their roots and take all the lovely minerals and vitamins from the soil.


    I have bought some saffron crocus bulbs and hopefully these bulbs will yield a bit of stamens and flavour my dinner!

  • mazerolm_3a

    saffron crocus; I’ve been wanting to try these for a couple of years now, but I always get sidetracked by showy tulips. :)

  • MYAL plantLOVER

    I like the idea of buying. It's when it comes to planting that I have headache. I don't have a big garden. Buyng the trilliums is a big risk. They like shade and moisture, just like meconopsis. I just don't have those magic ingredients. The iincessant rains this year have emboldened me, but it could be a sheer waste of my money. It's like I have tried that ..


    mazer: Do try them. They should spread and multiply once planted and they should be reduced by now by the proper national bulb suppliers. Then we could compare notes.

  • mazerolm_3a

    Thanks myal, I will try them next year. My ground is already frozen so no more gardening activities for me for a few months!

  • MYAL plantLOVER

    Two days ago, I got a delivery and saw a belt like thingy inside a paper bag. Was wondering what it was. Took it out and saw a spidery bulb with long tentacles and a tiny bulb in the middle. Looked at the label on the front and it read Eremurus Romance. I was stunned as I had never seen this shape of bulb before. I remember not buying the 3 Cleopatra at £5 because I had already ordered one from another company. Had a look at my email and indeed, I HAD already ordered a Cleopatra from another supplier. So strange! The Lilium bulbs were a bit mushy even in the middle. I just scaled them and put the scaled bits inside a plastic bag with vermiculite in it. I wish I had cleaned out the mushy dust. As son had a car accident, we won't have a courtesy car until tomorrow. Withdrawal symptoms have set in as we can't go gallivanting and scavenging. Sad!

  • biondanonima (Zone 7a Hudson Valley)

    I finally got the last of my bulbs planted yesterday - we had a really mild and rainy day on Saturday so the ground was completely thawed and very soft. 100 tiny allium oreophilum and 10 allium schubertii, bought on a whim during Van Engelen's 40% off sale. Happy to be done and now just counting the days until spring!

  • socalgal_gw Zone USDA 10b Sunset 24

    Two other volunteers helped me to plant 130 tulips at our adopted flower garden in a local park. Neither of them want to help me plant 200 at home next weekend. Looking forward to having more space in the refrigerator once the bulbs are out!

  • gardenstateblossom (NJ 6b)

    We just came in from planting 205 bulbs. The earth was still soft, so I hope they survive. We are expecting an ice storm tonight, so I am glad everything is in the ground.

  • MYAL plantLOVER

    We never refrigerate our bulbs. Gosh! The prospect of put so many of them in the fridge is frightening. I only planted one Fritillaria Persica and some critter, most probably foxes, dug it up. I then used a metal stick to hold a bird cage carcass to stop them coming near the bulb. Look what had happened.

    The protective armour fell sideway, This time, the critter tore into the flesh!

    I was so fed up that I planted the bulb inside the deep base of a pot and surround this big pots with other pots so stop foxes from getting close to it. What do you do to stop critters getting at your bulbs?

  • katob Z6ish, NE Pa

    How irritating. You have some determined pests there, usually fritillaria imperialis is recommended as a bulb to plant to keep them away since it's so smelly. I guess persica has a tastier smell.

    I think the pests here are lazier, all I usually do is spread some mulch over to try and hide where I was digging since my critters seem to find freshly dug soil to be irresistible.

    socal- do the tulips begin to grow right after planting? It's too cold over winter to do most bulbs in pots here so after seeing how well a friend's refrigerator cooled bulbs did I was thinking of giving it a try as well. I wouldn't mind potting up a couple in March for the porch rather than potting them up in November and dragging them to a mulch pile and burying them and then dragging them out in the spring... like i did this year!

  • ladas

    Fantastic thread! I can relate to so much of this. I downsized my bulb list twice before ordering, since I should know my limits by now. I still ended up having to push myself to get the last 30 ipheion in the ground in November. And decided it was just as well when one bag was missing a few bulbs - it let me finish early! I should have put mesh over the crocuses, since squirrels dug some of them up within a week. It will be interesting to see if they bloom in stray spots in the lawn.

  • socalgal_gw Zone USDA 10b Sunset 24

    200 tulips and 100 crocus planted at home yesterday. I’ll be planting two more groups of 30 red tulips at the park where I volunteer - staggered plantings in hopes that some will be in bloom for valentine’s day. I hit the date last year but this is a different red tulip.

    Katob - I think they do start to grow pretty soon after planting. I expect blooms in February. I missed removing a few bulbs last spring and those have already sprouted (although I don’t expect them to bloom).

  • getgoing100_7b_nj

    Seems like a lot of spring bulb experts are here so posting my thread here for advice.

    https://www.houzz.com/discussions/5829379/hyacinth-poking-it-s-head-already-how-to-proceed#n=10

    In short, I planted these hyacinth bulbs outdoors in pots in October for spring blooms but they started poking their heads already. I brought them in late November/early December. They are sitting on an Eastern windowsill which probably gets only a couple of hours of sun these days. The room is unheated (usually 10±3 centigrade). Here is what they look like. One set (first two pics) is closer to bloom than the other (the last two pics) and will probably bloom close to the soil line. The other set seems to be doing better and still has big fat nubs but no flower stalks showing. I am going to be away for a month, leaving in a weeks time. So, the question is how do I make sure I get to see the blooms. Do I speed them up by bringing into a warmer room and under grow lights. Or do I slow them down by leaving them out when it isn't freezing? I know I am being too manipulative to the poor sods but hey I put in the effort... Of course I could give them to someone else to enjoy...






  • MYAL plantLOVER

    I wonder if Katob or indeed anybody else can identify some snowdrops for me

    As usual, I have lost my labels.

  • katob Z6ish, NE Pa

    getgoing- sorry but I think your post got lost in the holiday lull. Hope things worked out alright. I would always opt for leaving them somewhere cooler since my luck always has them flowering the day after I leave.

    Myal I would guess 'Godfrey Owens' but he has six outer petals, not five... but maybe something odd happened. Does that sound like anything you might have bought?

    Things are ridiculously warm here and snowdrops are already coming up all over. I should be skiing rather than trudging through mud worrying about frozen snowdrops in February.

  • getgoing100_7b_nj

    I am happy to report that my unheated apartment's east facing window turned out to be the perfect place for slowing down the blooms. When I got back after a month, some of the spikes were still in bud and only one had dried up blooms. Amazingly, all buds opened within a day of being in warmer surroundings. Considering these bulbs were from already blooming pots on sale last year, I am pleased with their sight and smell, even though they are way smaller than ideal. Now, let's see if I can get them to bloom next year.

  • katob Z6ish, NE Pa

    That is great!! You really did well with them and I'm sure you will keep them going for a few years more. Will you be feeding them? I usually just use a water soluble fertilizer on the potted bulbs.

    I think they look better with a good amount of foliage and more open flower stalks. The fragrance must really have your home smelling like spring,

  • getgoing100_7b_nj

    Thanks for reminding me to feed them. Yes spring is in the air in the room even though it's truly a couple of months away.

  • socalgal_gw Zone USDA 10b Sunset 24

    For Southern California it feels like spring is here! I planted these in a flower garden in a park where I volunteer.



  • getgoing100_7b_nj

    You are lucky

  • socalgal_gw Zone USDA 10b Sunset 24

    I plant tulips at a city garden where I volunteer. We aim for red on Valentine’s day. I refrigerate the bulbs and plant at three different times, hoping to bracket February 14th. Got it right this year!


  • katob Z6ish, NE Pa

    Beautiful! The red looks even brighter with the whites and grays and excellent timing. Feel free to post as many more as you want, most of the east coast is freezing this morning.

  • Lisa Adams

    It looks great, Socalgal! You timed them perfectly. Is that park in San Diego, by chance? Lisa

  • socalgal_gw Zone USDA 10b Sunset 24

    Yes it is in San Diego, in Balboa Park, at the foot of the Lily Pond.

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