It is never too late to plant those spring-blooming bulbs that somehow never got planted. Pot up bulbs in containers to create a mini-garden that will delight you come springtime.
You ogled their colorful blooms in the bulb catalog. Placed your order. The bulbs arrived in time for fall planting — and then came winter! Whatever the reason, winter came early, you were late — the ground is frozen, and you have a multitude of bulbs. Bulbs are living plants, not seeds, they will dry out and die if not planted. What to do? Plant them in containers!
Things you’ll need: clean planting pots, soil mixture, bulb fertilizer.
Time it will take: Well, that depends on how many bulbs you ordered and didn’t get in the ground. Oh, and how long winter lasts. (A few worthwhile hours.) We’re not forcing the bulbs, but planting them to bloom at the usual time.
|5. Place your container in an unheated garage or better yet, heel them in a sheltered corner of your garden by covering them with leaves. If placed in the garage remember to water them. Allow for the pots to dry in between waterings. Avoid overwatering since this can result in bulb rot. Place the garaged containers outside when foliage pokes through the soil. If you have problems with squirrels, cover the top of the container with wire mesh to prevent them from feasting on the bulbs.|
|6. Transplant bulbs into a permanent spot in your garden after they’ve flowered but before they die back completely. Alternatively (and I think more work), allow bulbs to go dormant (when foliage has yellowed) in the container, remove the bulbs, brush off soil and store them in a well-ventilated dry box for the summer, then replant in the garden in fall.|
Place your spring-blooming containers outside in the garden bed, at your door, or in a fun and funky lawn display. Blooming containers can even be brought indoors (for a short term) to add fragrance and color to your home. Best of all you’ll have saved your bulbs to enjoy their cheerful beauty for years to come.
From State-by-State Gardening November/December 2011. Photography by Phyllis Gricus.