Question on precooled lilies

SaBro(z5b swMO)September 23, 2007

Hello everyone, I am new to this forum and have a question for you. I ordered some precooled lily bulbs to be delivered Sept. 30. Instead they sent them in late July and they were left on the front porch in the sun. Needless to say, they got very hot. I called and they made the order good and will reship on correct date. I put the bulbs in the basement hoping to salvage something and everyone of them has sprouted.

My question is, do you think the new order will sprout early since they will be going into warm soil? If they sprout this time of the year, they will be goners. I think the precooled bulb idea was not a good one.

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I don't know from precooled bulbs since I live where the natural progression of the seasons provides a cooling off period. I suspect even in SW Missouri, you do too. We need an expert, but I should think a precooled bulb brought into warmth breaks its rest period and fools it into thinking it's spring and time to start growing.

What I'd suggest is that you get the sprouted bulbs in the ground now, tip of the bulb - just below the sprout - 6" deep. If you've got a replacement order coming and have a planting spot for them already decided on, plant the sprouting ones in an out of the way spot somewhere. You never know, being in the ground may set them back enough to survive and come up at the right time as per usual. Nothing to lose.

It's entirely possible your replacement shipment will sprout also. But I hope someone chimes in and tells me I'm wrong, for your sake.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2007 at 5:43PM
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hld6(z7 MD)

Even if you live in cold zones, if you buy bulbs in the Spring you buy "pre-cooled" bulbs. Most sellers don't make a note of this - since customers don't need the info. for the bulbs to grow (in the Spring).

I usually find the phrase with wholesalers or relatively inexpensive retail mailorder sellers of bulbs - where they take literature provided by the wholesaler without adding their own editing. I'll find the exact same wording and photos at a number of sellers who obviously have the same bulb source.

For Fall planting you DO NOT want "pre-cooled" bulbs (unless you are forcing them indoors or in a greenhouse). You are either in a cold enough zone for nature to vernalize the bulbs or in warmer zones you need to wait til spring to plant them.

At this point you could take the bulbs and refrigerate them to tide them over until spring. Even the sprouted bulbs, as long as you don't freeze them. It should inhibit more growth and they can restart in the Spring. Putting them in the ground now may also work if the bulbs aren't too small. The warm weather now will, unfortunately, encourage additional growth (using up some of the bulbs energy) that will be killed when it gets colder (before it can fully leaf out and photosynthesize long enough to build the bulb up). The cold weather will then vernalize the now smaller (depleted) bulb. But bulbs store a great deal of energy. As long as they are not too small the now vernalized bulb should sprout again in the spring. Sometimes a stressed bulb will skip a season so even if they don't sprout this spring they may come back the year after. (I had that with "forgotten" bulbs I planted in August one year.)

Good Luck,


    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 2:55PM
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Out of curiosity, I looked up precooled bulbs - usually ordered in October for shipment in December to zones 9 and 10 for immediate planting. In those zones, they'll bloom at the normal time and are possibly treated as annuals since the warm zones can't guarantee a second year survival if not lifted and cooled again - a process needing to be repeated each year. (Infinitely too much trouble for me.)

So, what you want to do in the future is either buy the bulbs locally - I've had good luck with bulbs from local garden enters, even the big box stores - because they're available at the right time for fall planting, or make sure any mail order you submit isn't for precooled. I understand that mail order is often a bargain... but then again, sometimes it's not.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 6:11PM
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SaBro(z5b swMO)

Thanks, everyone. Yep, it was my own fault; I wasn't thinking when I ordered them. They are lovely, big bulbs with great root systems. I finally got the coming order stopped and now will see what I can do with the sprouted bulbs. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 6:36PM
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