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When Should I Plant My Bulbs?

2011 December 1

By Lina Younes

In the Washington, DC metropolitan area, we’ve been fortunate to have a mild fall this year.  In fact, for the last two weekends, temperatures have been unseasonably warm.

The reason I mention this is because I wanted to start planting bulbs this past weekend. I was looking at bulbs that will bloom in the spring such as daffodils, hyacinths and tulips. Traditionally, gardening experts recommend that the best time to plant spring-flowering bulbs in our area is around Thanksgiving.  This year, I might have to wait until later in December for planting. Why may you ask? Well, it is recommended that nighttime temperatures should remain consistently below 50 degrees Fahrenheit for at least two weeks before bulb planting can begin. If you plant bulbs too early, you run the risk of having the bulbs rot or even to start growing prematurely if you get a warm spell in winter.

So, what is an amateur gardener to do? Well, for starters, you can check with your local agricultural cooperative extension offices. There you will find gardening experts who may answer questions on the phone providing excellent information related to the right plants for your area and other useful tips.

In the meantime, there are many steps that you can take to greenscape your garden. These techniques will help you grow a healthier yard, save time and money, and ultimately protect the environment. There are useful tips on how to apply greenscaping techniques for all seasons.  With the proper planning and care during the fall, you may be rewarded with beautiful blooming plants in the spring.

So, have you had a chance to plant any bulbs already? What are your gardening plans?  We would love to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as acting associate director for environmental education. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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7 Responses leave one →
  1. Uncle Arman permalink
    December 1, 2011

    Planting Without Planning !!!

    Planting anything without planning could be scrawny. Looking many people in my country who planting a billion trees is waste of nation budget. Reading this article shows to plant it is not easy and need process and procedure. “Go Green” need planning, not just planting!

  2. john patterson permalink
    December 1, 2011

    Most spring bulbs need cold to make them better. So here in NYS you can plant up untill the ground freezes. Cover the ground over the bulbs with leaves or some type of mulch, but not to heavy. The wonder of Spring.

  3. Linda permalink
    December 2, 2011

    Over the years I have planted many bulbs and tubers around our home – crocus, daffodil, iris, day lily, hyacinth, and even hard-neck garlic (butterflies LOVE blossoms from any of the onion family and garlic makes a lovely blue starburst!) Earlier this fall I lifted and divided the hyacinths in a planter in hopes of many more of those lovely fragrant spires. Last month, I was adding a few pansies to one of those planters and found that the hyacinths were already trying to grow! I put in a few more garlics back in September, in the same beds and pots that hold my roses; garden lore says garlic plants help roses fend off black-spot – a big pest in any humid climate. If it works, my roses will be healthier, and even if it doesn’t, I’ll have tasty garlic cloves to use in the kitchen. No matter what though, I’ll leave some to bloom for the butterflies.

  4. Lina-EPA permalink
    December 2, 2011

    Linda, interesting comments. I’ve been wanting to plant garlic, but I haven’t gotten around to it. I wonder if it’s too late. I definitely like anything that will attract butterflies in the spring. I even had blogged about it.
    http://blog.epa.gov/blog/2008/06/19/wherehaveallthebutterfliesgone/

  5. Linda permalink
    December 2, 2011

    Nope, it’s not to late to plant a few bulbs, so long as the ground isn’t frozen. It’s very easy to grow and seems to be tolerant of a wide range of conditions. It won’t bloom until summer, but it’s really a pretty plant when it does.

  6. Christopher Addison permalink
    December 5, 2011

    This article is great and I like reading it.

  7. Jill permalink
    December 8, 2011

    Bulbs are very hardy and will grow in a variety of different conditions. I personally love planting tulips.

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