when to plant

vdixitSeptember 22, 2005


Is there a website somewhere which tells you when to plant bulbs for spring and summer blooms in a certain zone? Or can anyone help me out from their experience? I live in zone 7, seattle, the first frost date in my area is October 8th (I think). I want to plant daffodils, tulips, lilies, dahlias, gladioli. I ordered daffodils recently from a website but unfortunately they informed me that they wont be shipped untill Nov! Can I still plant these or do I have to store them for next year?

I appreciate your help,


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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Bulbs which are planted in the fall for spring blooming are usually put in the ground just after the first frost. Lots of leeway, but while they need time to make roots over the winter, you don't want them to try to sprout shortly after being planted, which they might do if you put them in August's warm soil. A November shipping date sounds good for zone 7. This applies for your daffies and tulips; same for most lilies. Don't forget that these bulbs all prefer very good drainage - dig their holes deep enough to put a couple inches of crushed oyster shell or coarse gravel under each bulb, they will live longer and happier.

However, most glads are not hardy enough to over-winter. Store them in a cool, dry, dark spot until the soil warms to at least 65* next spring. Each glad corm will grow and produce one stem of blooms, so it's a common practice to spread the planting over several weeks (thus there will be something in bloom over a longer period instead of all at once and then gone). If you have enough glad bulbs (and enough space), start planting when the soil is warm and continue with a few more every week until about the middle of July... the last ones should bloom just before frost! After the glad leaves have died back, dig them up, clip the dried stems to an inch (it's okay if the dead stem falls off), toss any bulbs that are rotten or cut, store the rest in a nylon stocking with the name/color labelled. Repeat in following years :)

    Bookmark   September 22, 2005 at 2:46PM
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Hi Meldy,
Thanks for the info. Its good to know that I can plant my daffodils in Nov (DH loves daffies). I was under the impression that one had to plant these bulbs before the first frost date.
I hope to enjoy my flowers in Spring!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2005 at 4:36PM
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If you live in Seattle or most anywhere else in the Puget Sound area, you are in zone 8. In fact, if you are within a mile or so of the Sound, you could even experience zone 9 conditions most of the time. Zone 7 is reserved for the higher elevations of the Cascade foothills.

One can plant year round in this climate - the frost date is only relevent to annuals or very tender perennials. Spring flowering bulbs can be planted pretty much any time they are available (and in this area where a good many of the nation's bulbs are produced, I certainly wouldn't go to the expense of mail order - bulbs of all descriptions are offered EVERYWHERE!) and as late as January.

Summer flowering bulbs, like the dahlias and glads, are generally offered and planted in spring. And they are fully winter hardy here in the ground as long as drainage is good. Glads tend to peter out after a couple of seasons, but dahlias just keep getting bigger and better.

The gardening climate and conditions of the PNW are unlike anywhere else in the country. It is generally not necessary to apply gardening practices that are standard in other parts of the country to this unique area - they are not often very relevent.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2005 at 1:47AM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Dahlias are tubers, not bulbs. And yes, many of the glads will be able to winter over in zones 8b and 9 (50-50 whether they survive a zone 8 winter).

One thing to keep in mind is that many spring-flowering bulbs need a certain number of hours of cold to induce flowering, so if you plant very late such as in January, be sure to buy bulbs which have been refrigerated - it will say so on the package.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2005 at 7:24AM
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Meldy, any advice to new gardeners is surely appreciated, but as I stated previously, gardening in the PNW and specifically in the Puget Sound area is unlike anywhere else in the country. What may be a standard practice for other zone 8 areas is often invalid here. There is no comparison between zone 8 Texas and here, for example. I have been gardening both personally and professionally in this area for more than 30 years and can state from personal experience that glads do overwinter reliably here, even tender species like Acidanthera. And since our soils don't really warm up until late April, you will get flowering from unrefrigerated spring bulbs planted as late as January, although their flowering season may be a bit later than similar bulbs planted earlier.

And I am quite aware that dahlias are tubers rather than bulbs, but since the OP is new to gardening, I didn't think it appropriate to possibly confuse the issue and get into the details of differences betweeen true bulbs, tubers, corms and rhizomes.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2005 at 11:29AM
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Thanks guys. oops gardengal,my mistake. I knew we in seattle were in zone 8 but wasnt paying attention while typing.
I only ordered those bulbs by mail-order coz I had a gift coupon for that website (brecks.com) and thought what the heck, lets try this.I remember reading on this forum that I could easily get those bulbs/tubers etc at a local store, so I am going to get everything else locally.
One more question though, what bulb food would you recommend. Or rather I should ask do I even bother with bulbfood/fertilizer when I plant them?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2005 at 7:37PM
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