August Is the Time to Order Fall Bulbs!

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20170809A Longfield Gardens

For beautiful spring flowers, you have to order bulbs in the fall. Photo: Longfield Gardens

If you intend to plant bulbs for bloom next spring—tulips, daffodils, squills, hyacinths, crocuses, etc.—or autumn-flowering bulbs—autumn crocuses, colchicums, etc.—, late July or August is the time to send in your orders!

20170809B IBulb

Always finding the same old bulbs in your local garden center? Mail order sources will vastly broaden your horizon! Photo: iBulb

True enough, a certain choice of bulbs will show up in your local garden center in September … but not necessarily the varieties you want. My local garden centers seem to offer almost only Triumph tulips, for example, yet they’re short-lived bulbs and I prefer perennial tulips (botanical tulips, viridifloras, Darwin hybrids, etc.). And they sell the same crocus varieties year after year, whereas I want ones I don’t already grow. Plus, they offer no rare bulbs at all, just run-of-the-mill varieties.

For a reasonable choice of bulbs, I have to order from a bulb specialist. And if you’re a serious bulb gardener, you’ll eventually find yourself in the same position.

For an eye-opening choice of bulbs, Canadian gardeners can try Fraser’s Thimble FarmsBotanus, Phoenix Perennials or Veseys. Americans will find a wide range of choices at Brent and Becky’s Bulbs and Longfield Gardens.

Have yourself a great bulb shopping spree!

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Fun Press Release

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I thought I’d share this truly fun press release with you. Informative, amusing, helpful: makes me want to plant plenty of bulbs! If only all press releases were so interesting!

When Crickets Cease to Chirp & Dogs Lie in the Sun, Plant Tulips

       Good things still come to those who wait. This is especially true of those who love tulips, daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs. To bloom in spring, bulbs must be planted in fall when cool soil temperatures offer the right

Pillow Talk Tulip Blend (Colorblends)

rooting conditions. The beginning of planting season ranges from late September in cooler climes, to late December in warmer areas.

So how does a gardener know when it’s time to plant?

“The simple answer is that bulb planting season starts once your soil temperature reaches about 55 degrees Fahrenheit,” says GWA allied member Tim Schipper of Colorblends, a Connecticut-based flower bulb wholesaler that sells direct to land care professionals and home gardeners across the country.

“The problem is, who knows what their soil temperature is?” he adds.

Schipper knows that nature provides other indicators that tell us when conditions are just right for bulb planting. To him, the easiest is: fall planting season begins when fall nighttime temperatures average between 40°F and 50°F.

He thought it might be fun – and useful to other gardeners – to ask his customers, many of whom are land care professionals, to share the “natural indicators” they use when gearing up to plant. He posed the question on hiswww.colorblends.com Web site, and set up a dedicated email,plantingtime@colorblends.com. Here are a few of their tips.

Spring Loaded Naturalizing Daffodil Blend (Colorblends)

It’s time to plant bulbs when:

  • Fall foliage has moved just past peak,
  • Crickets no longer chirp,
  • Squirrels are digging in acorns as fast as they can,
  • Birds start to group and depart,
  • You start turning on the heat in your car,
  • The air smells of wood fires,
  • Grapes are ripening on the vine,
  • You winterize the irrigation system before the winter freeze,
  • The hostas start to lie down,
  • The air has that organic, decaying leaf smell,
  • The dog moves from a cool to a sunny spot in the yard,
  • The kids start putting on their jackets without being nagged by you.

“Of course life doesn’t always go on schedule,” admits Schipper. “Though it’s not great to plant too early, you can usually get away with planting a bit late. Once soil temperature reaches the optimal level, you still have a six to eight week window to get bulbs in the ground before it freezes hard. So whether you forgot to order, or decide you want more, it’s generally not too late to order and plant if you can still work the soil.”

Reputable flower bulb specialists like Colorblends ship bulbs when it’s time to plant in the recipient’s area. Ideally, bulbs should be planted as soon as they arrive. If you can’t plant right away, store the bulbs in a cool, dry place with good air circulation. The ideal storage temperature is between 50°F and 60°F. That said, bulbs stored till planting at temperatures ranging from 35°F to 75 F should do fine.

Schipper says, “Be practical. If normal home temperature is the coolest you’ve got, that’s good enough. Just keep your bulbs out of direct sunlight.

“Bulbs are pretty forgiving, adds Schipper. “But they must be planted in the fall. They’re not seeds. The bulbs are alive and will not last unplanted until next year.”

To learn more about planting fall bulbs for spring bloom, go towww.colorblends.com or call 888-847-8637. Colorblends’ minimum order is $60. Bulbs can be purchased in packaged increments from 25 up to 1,000, including Colorblends’ popular, custom tulip blends.

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Big Ups Tulip Blend (Colorblends)

Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

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Avoid Squirrel Problems by Choosing Bulbs They Hate

Squirrels love tulip and crocus bulbs… but do not at all like other bulbs (daffodils, snowdrops, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones, fritillaries, etc.). Plant the latter and squirrels will leave your fall plantings in peace!

Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

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Now’s the Time to Buy your Bulbs

septembre 12Spring-flowering bulbs (tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, etc.) are beginning to arrive in garden centers throughout the Northern Hemisphere and I suggest buying them without delay. That’s because, of course, you will have a better choice if you buy your bulbs soon after they arrive in the store, but even more importantly, also because the quality of the bulb diminishes rapidly when it is stored at high temperatures, as is the case in most stores. They really should display them in a refrigerated room, which keeps the bulbs from drying out too rapidly. It is therefore better to buy early and store them yourself in a cool spot at home (a basement, garage or shed) if you feel it is too early to plant them. In most climates, you’ll be planting them soon anyway, some time between late September to late November, when the soil outdoors begins to cool.