Can I plant tulip bulbs in the Spring? Will they rot?
Hardiness Zone: 8a
Teresa from Burgaw, NC
I have three answers to the first part of your question: yes, no, and it depends.
Yes: If you are talking about pre-chilled bulbs that you have ordered from a bulb company the answer is yes. Many bulb companies sell pre-chilled bulbs for warmer zones that can be planted directly in the ground in the spring. Spring-flowering bulbs need to go through a chilling period before they will bloom. Most require at least 12 weeks of cold temperatures (just above freezing) to stimulate the biochemical processes necessary to grow and flower. So, if you are talking pre-chilled bulbs, go ahead and plant them in the spring.
No: If you have some left over Tulip bulbs from fall and they appear dried out and shrived your out of luck. Planting them would be an exercise in futility. Unlike seeds, bulbs are living. Although we can't always predict when it will be, they definitely have an expiration date.
It depends: If your bulbs remain plump and firm after winter storage, you have two options-plant them immediately, or store them in the refrigerator until fall. Either way you roll the dice and your results may be less than satisfactory. The way I see it, if you are likely to end up tossing them out anyway, why not give them a shot? They may surprise you and come up in late summer or early fall (although I doubt you'll see anything more than leaves). They may not come up at all. Or, there is always the off chance that they will reset themselves and magically pop up next spring. Gardening is all about miracles! The bulb's success will depend entirely on how much chilling time they can still get this spring as well as how good of shape they are in.
Because it's getting so late to plant them in your zone, if you have some extra space in your refrigerator, you may want to store them for the summer instead of planting them. Put them in a paper bag filled with slightly damp sphagnum moss and check them periodically to make sure they don't start to dry out. Make sure to keep them away from apples, onions, and grapes, too; they emit an ethylene gas that will damage the bulbs. Chill them at least 12 weeks and then either plant them, or try to force them indoors. Don't put them in the freezer-that will kill them for sure!
In response to your question about bulb rot: A wetter than usual spring can favor soil-borne bacteria and fungi infections that lead to bulb rot.
About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com
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Hardiness Zone: 8a
Teresa from Burgaw, NC
You can plant several bulbs in a dish on top of stones or in soil and have an early spring in the house, when they are done, I plant them in the garden for many years of spring flowers. I never dig them up and they reproduce each year. If you must plant them in the spring put them in asap and you may get flowers this year but will for sure next year. If you leave them to next fall, you will not have any bulbs to plant they will be dead. So have a lovely indoor spring and later an outdoor one as well. susan from hamilton (02/02/2005)
By Susan from Hamilton
Don't wait for spring. If the ground is not frozen plant them as soon as possible. If the ground is frozen where you are, plant them as soon as the ground thaws. In the mean time store them in a cool dry place. A refrigerator works well. Depending on when you get them in the ground, they may or may not bloom this spring but if you don't plant them and they dry up they definitely won't bloom, ever.
Most bulbs need a "cooling period" in order to bloom and depending on how you have them stored now and when you get them in the ground and the amount of cold weather left before spring will determine what happens. I planted some bulbs a few years ago in January and they bloomed about 3-4 weeks later than the others planted years before. In the next years they bloomed at the regular time.
If you have squirrels where you live put down chicken wire over your planting bed and then cover with mulch. This will keep the critters from digging and eating your bulbs.