Planting Spring Bulbs In February??

by lhannan on February 2, 2012

Here it is February and I still have spring bulbs to plant in my garden. This happens every year, and each year I make a promise to myself that next year I will order my bulbs in August and plant them the day they arrive. This, of course, will never happen.

In my business I am really busy in the fall, which is the best time for garden installation in the Pacific Northwest. And when I’m not working in someone else’s garden, I’m raking the thousands of leaves that fall into my garden from the hundreds of huge trees that have lined the streets of my neighborhood since the 1920s. The trees make our neighborhood a beautiful and special place, but for weeks, the autumn leaves create a serious clean-up job for me and my neighbors.

The small bulbs on the left are species daffodils (Narcissus) that I dug up sometime last fall when I was transplanting something nearby. I threw them into the one gallon plastic pot and literally left them outside my garage door all winter. They were exposed to low temperatures, lots of rain and a bit of snow. The large bulbs in the plastic bag have, for months, been sitting on a table inside my garage, which means they did at least get the necessary cold period that promotes good healthy blooms. The worst thing they were exposed to was a plastic zip lock bag, which certainly would have killed them had the top been zipped closed (and, truth be told, a couple of the bulbs on the bottom did rot). I had them in plastic rather than netting because, of course, I was going to plant them ‘next week’.

Today is a beautiful day for planting. The daffodils will be going directly into the ground. I’m putting the tulips in a pot with about 4” of soil and a bit of bone meal (if I still have it). I always plant larger bulbs in plastic pots and place them in my out of way holding area. When they bloom, I place them in a decorative pot and move them out into my garden. When they have finished blooming, the large foliage becomes unsightly so I move the pots back to the holding area. If I had a larger garden I might plant the tulips in the ground and hide the failing foliage with the leaves of a Hosta, or some other emerging spring perennial, but my garden is small and so I prefer the in and out method.

Will they survive? You bet they will. I have planted bulbs at this time for years and they always bloom a few weeks later. This might not work in a colder climate but in Portland it isn’t a problem.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

laura crockett February 4, 2012 at 4:48 pm

hah! love to hear your garden experiences… sounds pretty familiar, as I am currently looking at three boxes of Allium ‘Sensation’ sitting on my front porch… I think this is the weekend !
love ya,


linda February 11, 2012 at 4:38 pm

I love Allium ‘Sensation’ – get those babies in the ground!!


Arnulfo April 3, 2014 at 7:07 am

I just found my new obsession.


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