I Forgot to Plant My Bulbs

I forgot to plant my bulbs. What can I do?

Well, the first thing is to figure out if they’re alive or dead. If they’re still hard they’re alive. If they’re soft or have mushy spots, they’re dead or dying.

If they’re alive, then you have several time lines going for you.

If it is fall and the ground is “just frozen”, then dig it up, plant the bulbs and water very, very heavily. Soak the bulbs in the planting hole before covering over and soak again after covering the chunky frozen soil back in the hole.

If it is winter and the ground is truly frozen and its winter and your bulbs are still alive. Plant them in a flower pot – put the flower pot in an area that is 40F but not going to freeze solid. An attached garage is usually good. You’ll get steady cold temperatures but not a solid freezing. The crisper of the frig is good although hungry teenagers will resent the space given to flowers.

After 12-16 weeks of cool temperatures, you can either bring the pot indoors to force the bulb into bloom early, you can put the pot outdoors after all danger of frost to enjoy a potted bulb, or you can carefully (very!) transplant it to a garden location. I note if you enjoy the potted flowers, you can transplant the bulbs to the garden after they finish blooming.

If it’s spring, you forgot to plant your bulbs but the bulb is still alive and hard then plant the bulb outdoors where you want it to flower.

Having said that, the odds are in the spring that your bulb is not going to live but you won’t know unless you plant it. It will not flower as it did not have a cold dormancy and set up roots (cold dormancy and growing cool in the fall allows it to set a flower bud). If it produces leaves, you should celebrate as it will then flower the following season.

And next year, tie a string around your finger so you won’t forget to plant your bulbs. :-)

hybrid tulip

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