Friday, June 22, 2007

When to Plant Fall Blooming Bulbs?

(Crocus speciosus photograph courtesy of Sonja Keohane, all rights reserved.)

I just wanted to double-check a question about fall flower blooming. For fall-flowering bulbs like Colchicum autumnale, true hardy crocus varieties, and hardy cyclamen, can one plant now to get fall flowers because the flowers come up on the bulbs so quickly. Is this correct?

I would say yes, this is a good time to begin your planning and planting of fall blooming bulbs. You are correct that fall blooming bulbs have a tendency to come up rather quickly, whether they are Colchicum, Crocus, or Cyclamen. The ideal is to plant roughly a month before the expected bloom time. Therefore late July or August is the appropriate time to plant. Some companies and seasoned individuals recommend getting started earlier, and the reason for that is to ensure that you get the bulbs that you want before it is too late. Because the selection of applicable fall blooming bulbs for our area is not as great as that of spring blooming bulbs, growers recommend buying early to make sure that your order is placed, processed, and shipped in a timely fashion. If you end up ordering and getting your bulbs too late you may find that the bulbs have already started to push their blooms before they have had the chance of being planted and establishing new roots. This may lead to a poor first bloom in your garden. To have the best chance of a decent bloom, plant your fall blooming bulbs in early August in well-drained soil and water during periods of drought.

Also, while we are on the topic, remember that most fall blooming bulbs put up their foliage in the spring, completely separately from the flower. The spring foliage is the bulbs chance to photosynthesize and store energy and carbohydrates for the upcoming fall flower. Many people forget where they planted their fall blooming bulbs and when the foliage comes up in spring they cut it back thinking it is some sort of weed. Then when the flowers emerge in fall, with diminished energy reserves, and the flower is less than spectacular people wonder why that is.

Therefore, order your fall blooming bulbs now and get them planted before the middle of August. Water them in times of drought and make sure they are in well-drained soil so that you do not run the risk of rotting the bulbs themselves. Lastly, if you fear you may not remember where they are planted, consider marking or mapping them so that you do not accidentally remove the foliage in spring. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Can you recommend fall blooming bulbs for Long Island?