Not all garden plants are reproduced by seed. In some cases, garden bulbs are the preferred method of starting a new plant for many popular garden flowers and vegetables. As with any type of plant propagation, soil temperature and moisture levels must be controlled for most successful growth.
Fall Planting & Summer Planting
The two major groups of garden bulbs are the fall planted Dutch bulbs including tulips, daffodils and hyacinths which bloom in the early spring. And the spring or summer planted favorites including daylilies, dahlias, gladiolus, potatoes and onions for summer blooming and food production.
Cool temperature loving garden bulbs for summer harvest like potatoes and onions are planted in April or May, as are perennial flower bulbs like daylily and iris. Frost tender garden bulbs like dahlias and gladiolus are planted after the danger of frost has passed, which is on average right after Mother’s Day. Planting depth is important so read the planting instructions on the package for each bulb has its own requirements.
Bulb Planting Indoors
Garden bulbs may be planted indoors for an early start to the season. Use growing containers and a good quality potting soil for growing on as starter plants. Water regularly and apply fertilizer as directed on the package. Starting conditions require a location with bright light like right in a window to keep the new plants growing healthy and strong. Grow lights are very helpful for providing additional light for the plants as well.
Fall Bulb Planting
Many different colors and types of the fall planted Dutch bulbs are available for planting in September and October. Choose from early, mid and late season varieties and a selection of growing heights. Planting depth for each species is an important consideration so that the plants do not start growing too early in the spring. Plant in groups for the best show in the garden.
Dutch garden bulbs such as tulips and daffodils may be planted indoors in the fall, but require a cooling period of time after they are planted to mimic what they would experience in nature during the winter months. Placing the planted bulbs in an unused refrigerator or unheated garage of 40 degree temperatures would work. Plant the bulbs in good quality potting soil in any size container. Place the pot in a cool area through the winter. Keep the soil moist. After 15 weeks of cooling, bring the pot into the house for forcing in a bright location. It will take 2-3 weeks for the leaves to grow and the flower buds to emerge.
Cool Season Vegetable Bulbs
Garlic performs best when planted in a light, sandy soil that has been amended with compost. Long days and warm nights help in bulb development. Plant in early spring when the ground has warmed to 50 degrees. Dig a hole 3-4” deep. Break bulbs up into individual cloves, set firmly in place with pointed ends up. Replace the soil covering the bulbs. Water well after covering. Allow soil to dry between watering. Harvest mid-late summer. Choose from California or Silver Rose varieties.
Plant in a well-drained soil that has been loosened. Control weeds around sets with frequent shallow cultivation. Plant apart in rows and only deep enough so that the tops of the bulb sets are covered with soil. Harvest at end of season when fully mature and air dry. Choose from red, white or yellow varieties.
Plant potatoes in a sunny location in early spring. Soil should be worked 12” deep before potatoes are planted and fertilizer mixed into the soil. Always be sure the tubers are covered with 1” of soil. Cut the seed tubers into pieces that each contain 2-3 eyes, from which the new shoots will emerge. Allow the cut pieces to heal over-night to help prevent disease. It is important to water regularly and not over-water. As a general guideline, potatoes should be watered weekly during warm summer weather. Harvest early to mid-season. Choose from Red, Russett or Yukon Gold varieties.