Get answers to top questions about planting spring bulbs with bulb expert Peter Zonneveld of Van Zyverden, one of the largest bulb suppliers in North America.
Planting spring bulbs adds beauty and vibrancy to summer gardens with lively lilies, delightful dahlias, enormous elephant ears and colorful cannas. The beauty of bulbs is they can be planted almost anywhere, from urns and window boxes to raised beds and borders. Because bulbs come in packages of varying amounts, you can create the garden that’s the right size for you.
Depending on climate, many spring-planted bulbs will last season-to-season as perennials, while those sensitive to cold temperatures can be planted as annuals.
Get the best advice so you can grow a garden filled with blooms and color.
7 Spring Bulbs Questions Answered for Summer blooms:
1. When do I plant summer-flowering bulbs?
The time to plant summer-flowering bulbs is when the danger of frost or freezing has passed in your area. The reason you plant at that time is because spring-planted bulbs for summer blooms generally need warmer temperatures to begin growing. In addition, some bulbs are sensitive and, if they freeze, they will rot away.
With Van Zyverden bulbs, if they get planted at the right time in the season for which they are intended, the bulbs will grow – guaranteed. Bulbs are also guaranteed to be disease and pest-free, commercially cultivated and never taken from the wild.
That’s a lot of color for little money.
2. How do I plant the bulbs?
Every bulb variety comes with individual planting instructions which indicate depth and spacing. It will also indicate in what USDA Hardiness Zones the bulbs will be hardy for. If they’re not hardy, the bulbs would need to be dug up and overwintered. One of the most critical things bulbs need is drainage. Some will rot if not planted in proper draining areas.
Planting depth is measured from the bottom of the bulb. So if the packaging says to plant the bulb four inches deep, it does not need four inches from the top, it’s from the bottom up.
It’s best to plant bulbs in groups. Most can be planted in full sun to partial shade. The idea is to not sweat the details too much and have fun. Bulbs are easy to grow.
3. Does bulb size matter?
Bulb size does matter and it’s the best predictor of growing success. Larger bulbs produce stronger plants with more flowers. Van Zyverden ships a larger size bulb to The Home Depot because, by starting out with a larger bulb, you’ll get results quicker, as well as more and larger flowers, stems and leaves which withstand adversity so much better.
So if you plant our bulbs, you’ll have faster and more satisfactory results quicker.
4. How can I keep deer and other critters away from my bulbs?
If deer and other critters become a problem in your garden, consider planting deer-resistant bulbs. Bulb varieties that do not attract critters include: Begonias, cannas, caladiums, elephant ears, lilies, ranunculus, dutch iris, peonies, freesias and hollyhocks.
Other ways you can keep deer and critters away from bulbs include using garden fencing or chicken wire. There are also eco-friendly repellents available to deter hungry critters. Learn more ways to keep critters out of your garden.
5. What happens if I don’t plant my bulbs on time?
Bulbs are like onions or potatoes in your cupboard. Eventually they will want to grow. If you do not plant them, they will not survive. Bulbs must be planted in the season for which they are intended to survive. If the bulbs are not planted, you would be better off planting them late anyway and hoping for the best. Otherwise, the alternative is to throw them out.
So, even if on the late side, proceed to plant your bulbs. It is possible that by planting them late, you’ll get poor performance the first year. But the bulbs will adjust and perform each subsequent year, if perennial. If they are planted in correct USDA zone, they will come back for years to come.
6. How long after I plant my bulbs will I start to see growth?
You’ll see growth in six to eight weeks, but bloom time will depend on what you’re planting. Some may grow in spring but will not bloom until the fall. Certain bulbs, such as dahlias, bloom summer through fall instead of spring.
7. What’s the best way to store bulbs prior to planting?
The best way to store bulbs prior to planting is to place the bulbs in a dark, dry spot with good air circulation and temperatures in the 50 to 65 degree Fahrenheit range.
Bulbs need cool storage. But never store bulbs in a kitchen refrigerator if there’s produce inside because ethylene gas damages bulb development.