Not Too Late to Plant Spring Bulbs

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According to John Murphy, Horticultural Director at Bullington Gardens, “It’s not too late to plant spring flowering bulbs in December, but it should be done fairly soon. They need a minimum of 12 weeks chilling period (below 40 degrees) in order to grow and flower. It’s important to plant at the correct depth, a bulb planter can be helpful, but at Bullington we tend to dig out a whole section with a shovel and pack it with bulbs.”

Daffodils and tulips immediately come to mind for spring bulbs. Daffodils are very reliable coming back from year to year. Tulips though are not. They are a special treat for voles and unless they can be planted in a protected bed or container, they just don’t come back very well. Some gardeners regard them as annuals.”

Plant these bulbs in winter for spring displays:

John continues, “There are many more varieties of spring flowering bulbs available to gardeners. Alliums bloom later than most spring bulbs, but the wait is rewarded with a display of impressively large flowers of purple balls. Fritillaria is a type of lily that is not well known and when they bloom at Bullington people constantly ask what they are. One form known as snake’s head lily has different shades of purple flowers with a checkerboard pattern. Foxtail lilies (Eremurus) make a dramatic statement in the garden with long flower spikes of yellow or orange on very tall plants. There are dwarf irises that bloom very early in the spring. Hyacinths are wonderfully fragrant flowers. Chionodoxa, are beautiful low growing flowers of blues, pinks, and whites. And they are many other types.”

John concludes, “We still have over 1000 bulbs to plant at Bullington, so while there is still time to get them in the ground, we will try to do it before Christmas or New Years so that they will have the required chilling to make a beautiful display.”

flowerstulip border

Written By

Steve Pettis, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionSteve Pettis, Jr.Extension Agent, Agriculture - Consumer and Commercial Horticulture Call Steve E-mail Steve N.C. Cooperative Extension, Henderson County Center
Posted on Dec 31, 2020
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