- Single early: Cup-shaped with one flower per short stem. First tulip to bloom, starting late March.
- Double early: More than the usual number of petals, with a fluffy appearance. Tall (12″ to 15″) stems. It will start blooming in early April. Can be harmed by cold snaps and winds.
- Triumph: Cross between early and late singles. Tall (15″ to18″) stems. Late April bloomer.
- Darwin hybrid: Cross between Darwin and the Fosteriana. Tall (24″) stems and very hardy. Naturalize well. Late season, blooming into May.
- Single late: One bloom per stem. It is known for a wide range of colors and late season bloomers.
- Lily-flowered: Tall (18″ to 24″), late-season bloomers with pointed, slightly flared petals.
- Fringed: Fringed or ruffled petal edges in many colors, sometimes with contrasting colors on the fringe. Late season bloomer with 12″ to 18″ stems.
- Viridiflora: Late season blooms on 12″ to 24″ stems with distinctive green streaks in their petals.
- Rembrandt: Once prized for their colorful streaks and mottling, these tulips are no longer grown commercially because the coloring was caused by a virus that spreads to other tulips. You may still see Rembrandt tulips advertised, but they are not true Rembrandt cultivars.
- Parrot: Named for the bud’s resemblance to a parrot’s beak. The flowers are large, with twisted, curling petals on tall (12″ to 24″) stems. Late season.
- Double late: Also called the Peony Tulip, these tall (18″ to 24″) tulips have enough petals to rival a peony bloom. They are not particularly hardy but are nice in containers. Late season.
- Kaufmanniana: Also known as the water lily tulip, these early bloomers have flowers that open so wide they are almost flat. The leaves have brownish-purple mottling, and the plants are only 6″ to 12″ tall.
- Fosteriana: Also known as Emperor tulips, The flowers are large, often with pointed petals and available in many colors. Blooms mid-season on 8″ to 15″ plants.
- Griegii: A short (8-12″), early season bloomer with flared, pointed petals and wavy leaves. Brightly colored, including some bi-colors.
- Species or wild tulips: Great for perennializing, these are short (4″ to 12″) plants with lots of variety and varying bloom times.
- 6 Must-Read Tips for Planting Bulbs in the Fall
- Zone 5 Flower Bulbs: Choosing Bulbs For Zone 5 Gardens
- Zone 5 Flower Bulbs
- Garden Myths – Learn the truth about gardening
- The Life Cycle of a Spring Bulb
- When Do Roots Start To Grow?
- Required Cold Spell
- Planting Spring Bulbs Early
- Reasons For Planting Late
- Bulb Diseases
- When Should You Plant Spring bulbs?
- The 5 Best Bulbs to Plant in Spring for Summer Blooms
- Using the Hardiness Zone Map
- Find your hardiness zone by zip code:
- Zone Finder
- Ship Date/Hardiness Zone
6 Must-Read Tips for Planting Bulbs in the Fall
Bulbs are one of the best ways to have a colorful spring garden, but when it comes to fall bulb planting, there are a few things you’ll need to know. Try out these tips this fall, and you should have lots of beautiful blooms next spring!
1. The Right Way to Plant Fall Bulbs
As you are planting bulbs, there are a few things to remember. First, make sure that you choose a spot with at least 6 hours of sunlight. For early bloomers, like daffodils, you can plant in a spot that gets sun before the trees have leaves in the spring. By the time trees start shading your bulb bed, early blooming bulbs should be almost finished for the year. Bulbs also like soil that is rich with organic matter or compost, and they love well-drained soil. Soggy soil or overwatering will cause them to rot. Finally, when you are ready to plant, the general rule of thumb is to plant a bulb three times as deep as the bulb is tall, making sure the pointy part is facing upwards.
2. Prepare the Bulb Bed Well
You don’t want to simply dig a hole and plant the bulb. For the best growth, make sure that you prepare a bed ahead of planting. This means that you’ll need to remove weeds and loosen the soil. It is also a good idea to add compost for nutrients or sand for drainage before you plant.
3. Buy at the Right Time
This is a tough one because nowadays, many stores are selling their fall bulbs in July or August, because they want gardening supplies out of the way in time to set up holiday displays. This means that you’ll either need to store your bulbs carefully for a month or three, or you’ll need to order online or by mail at planting time so that you have fresh, healthy bulbs. If you are stuck buying your bulbs early, then make sure they are firm and plump, with no mold or rot. Leave them in the bag that you purchased them in, and then place that bag in a paper lunch bag so that you can store the bulbs in the fridge without making a mess.
4. Plant at the Right Time
It differs from one climate zone to the next, but no matter where you live, there are a few ways to judge whether or not it is the right time to plant your fall bulbs. In general, try to plant when nightly temperatures are around 40 or 50 degrees, or about six weeks before you expect the ground to freeze. Most spring bulbs need a chilly period to bloom, so if you live in an area where the ground doesn’t freeze (zones 8 to 11), then you’ll need to chill them. Leave the bulbs in the bags you bought them in, and simply place them in your refrigerator for six to 10 weeks before planting. Make sure that you don’t store bulbs with fruits, since the gasses that fruit gives off can make your bulbs go bad.
5. Plant the Right Bulbs
Not all bulbs should be planted in the fall. Dahlias and gladiolus should be planted in the spring, for instance, while daffodils and tulips do well when planted in late summer or early autumn. Here is the rule of thumb: If you are planting a bulb that blooms in the spring, plant it in the fall. For bulbs that bloom early summer or later, plant them in the spring.
6. Wait for Spring to Fertilize
Once you have the bulbs in the ground, they’ll stay dormant for the remainder of the fall and winter, so you won’t need to bother with fertilizing. Wait until you start to see the first shoots of spring, because that is an indicator that the roots are growing and ready for nutrients. You’ll also want to make sure that you don’t fertilize after the bulbs start to flower because this will inhibit bulb growth. If you haven’t tried bulbs in your garden, you definitely should. With daffodils, hyacinths, tulips and other early spring bloomers, bulb beds will give you beautiful color long before the rest of your garden starts to grow.
Zone 5 Flower Bulbs: Choosing Bulbs For Zone 5 Gardens
Planting flower bulbs is a fantastic way to get the jump on spring gardening. If you plant bulbs in in the fall, you’re guaranteeing color and life in your garden early in the spring, probably long before you’re able to go out and plant anything with your hands. So what are some good cold hardy bulbs? Keep reading to learn more about growing bulbs in zone 5 and some of the best zone 5 flower bulbs.
Zone 5 Flower Bulbs
When it comes to cold hardy bulbs, there are actually a number to choose from. Here are some of the most commonly planted bulbs for zone 5 gardens:
Daffodil – These bulbs are a popular standard in most gardens. A wide variety of daffodils are available in shades of white, yellow and orange and in all kinds of sizes. Plant your bulbs in the fall, pointy end up, twice as deep as the height of the bulb.
Iris – This genus of flowers includes over 300 species, many of which will grow with no problem in zone 5. Plant the bulbs in mid to late summer.
Tulip – Tulips are very diverse and come in just about any color you could want. Plant tulip bulbs in late autumn for flowers the following spring.
Lily – Lilies come in just about every color and variety you could want, and many are suitable to zone 5 gardening. When you plant your bulbs in the fall, thoroughly loosen the soil and work in plenty of organic material to ensure good drainage.
Snowdrop – Snowdrops are some of the first flowers to emerge in the spring, often while there is still snow on the ground. The bulbs are usually sold green, or undried, so plant them in the fall immediately after you buy them for the best results.
Hyacinth – These flowers are known mostly for their heavenly scent that’s associated so strongly with spring. Plant your bulbs in early autumn to give the roots time to establish before the first frost.
Crocus – The crocus is one of the earliest spring flowers to pop up in the garden. It’s also one of the hardiest, so zone 5 gardens are no problem for this bulb.
This is just a short list to choose from. For more information about the best flower bulbs in your region, check with your local extension office.
Garden Myths – Learn the truth about gardening
Almost every gardener grows spring bulbs like tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocus. Millions of new bulbs are sold every year and yet people do not agree on the best time to plant them. Some want to plant early, as soon as they arrive in shops. Others say that you should wait until the ground gets an early frost. Some wait until the ground is fully frozen, but that is usually because they forgot to plant earlier.
A couple of years ago I was in a large nursery that specialized in spring bulbs. It was early September in a zone 5 climate and a manager told me not to plant the bulbs for a couple of months until we had a light frost. I looked him in the eye and asked about the bulbs I had planted in prior years – they were already in the ground. Do they need to be dug up so I could re-plant them after frost? He did not have an answer.
Lets have a look at the science and figure out when you should plant spring bulbs.
When is the best time to plant spring bulbs?
The Life Cycle of a Spring Bulb
To determine the best time for planting bulbs it is it is important to understand the life cycle of a bulb.
In winter, the bulb is under ground and not doing very much – it is resting. In spring, it starts to grow and most of our common spring bulbs produce both flowers and leaves. This requires a tremendous amount of food energy which comes from the bulb. The new leaves start to photosynthesize to replenish the food used for early spring growth and to make seeds, another energy intensive process.
By mid-summer the plant has finished its above ground growth and the leaves start to die back. What you do not see is that the roots also die back and stop working. This makes sense since the plant is about to enter into a dormant phase where roots are not required and keeping them is a liability. The plant is now in a state of rest.
Towards the end of summer the bulb senses it is time to start growing again. It first makes roots so that it can have access to water and nutrients. Soon after root initiation, the bulb starts to grow leaves and flowers. These grow until they reach a point just below the surface of the soil. The first time I heard this I didn’t believe it. Why would the bulb grow leaves in fall? So I went out to the garden in November and sure enough almost all my bulbs had green growth just below the surface of the soil.
In hindsight this all makes perfect sense. Most spring bulbs need to start growing early in spring so that they catch the light from the sun before grasses, shrubs, trees and other larger plants shade them. The best way to get an early start is to complete a good part of the growth in fall.
When things get really cold, the bulb goes into a dormant state again, until spring.
When Do Roots Start To Grow?
In late August, zone 5, I happen to dig up a number of bulbs this year and almost all of them had growing roots, including daffodils, snowdrops, Iris reticulata and muscari. Bulbs that are already in the ground don’t wait until late fall to grow roots.
Daffodil bulbs showing root and stem growth Oct 9, by Robert Pavlis
The above picture shows daffodil bulbs that were dug up on October 9, showing both root growth and stem growth.
Same daffodil dug up Nov 3, showing significant root and shoot growth, by Robert Pavlis
Garlic is not exactly a spring bulb, but the life cycle is similar. The picture below shows seedling cloves that were not harvested until September and they already have long roots and shoots.
Garlic already growing in September
To learn more about growing garlic have a look at Growing Garlic. Also see, Best Time To Plant Garlic.
Dr. Willaim Miller of Cornell University has looked at the affect of temperature on root growth. They took tulips, daffodils and hyacinths; exposed them to different temperatures and then compared root growth. All three types of bulbs displayed similar results. The picture below shows that root growth is very temperature dependent and best growth was seen at the highest temperature tested, 10C (49F).
From “Preparing for The 2015 Tulip Forcing Season” By Bill Miller (ref 3)
Imagine what would happen if you plant new bulbs once the ground has frost? There would be little or no root growth.
Required Cold Spell
You are probably familiar with the fact that most spring bulbs need a certain amount of cool weather in order to initiate flowering. In warm climates these bulbs grow leaves but no flowers. This problem can be overcome by keeping the bulbs in the fridge before planting.
A fact that is much less known is that the temperature used for conditioning bulbs is also critical. If the temperature is either too warm or too cold, they won’t flower. This critical temperature is different for different bulbs. Tulips can be condition at lower temperatures than daffodils and hyacinths (ref 3). The latter two condition very slowly below 2C (34F) and if planted in cold soil they may not flower well in spring.
Planting Spring Bulbs Early
I am a big believer in taking advice from nature. If bulbs that are already in the ground start making roots in August it tells me that this is a benefit for the plant. Starting growth early allows the bulb to make a larger root system before the ground gets too cold. Larger root systems must benefit the plant, or they wouldn’t make them.
The exact reason for making roots early may not be known, but it is clear that bulbs prefer to make roots early in my climate and soil conditions. It then follows that new bulbs should also be planted as soon as possible (usually not available until August).
Reasons For Planting Late
If you ask people that believe in late planting for an explanation you will not get much of one. Some people think that the bulbs need to feel the cold before going into the ground. That doesn’t make sense. How much cold can they experience when you walk from the house to the garden and plant? No one suggests leaving them out in the cold to get some frost, which would harm some bulbs.
I think that this idea of giving the bulbs some exposure comes from the fact that tulips and other bulbs will not flower in warm climates. They do need a chill period during winter to flower. Knowing this, it is easy to understand why people might think that it is best to plant after a frost.
Explanations like, “that is how I have always done it”, don’t hold much water either.
Another explanation is that early planting will expose them to too much warm weather during Indian Summer, resulting in early growth and flowering that will be harmed when it gets cold. Consider the bulbs that are in the ground from last year. They experience the heat of summer every year and that does not result in fall blooms. Many of our spring bulbs originate in climates that have hot summers.
I found this statement on line, “They’re dormant when you get them and break dormancy only after the chilling.” This is simply not true as you have seen in the above examples. They break dormancy in late summer before the chill of winter.
None of the above are good reasons for plant spring bulbs in late fall, but there might be a good reason that few gardeners know about.
To better answer the question about best planting time I contacted Dr. William Miller at Cornell University. He has been studding spring bulbs to better understand how they react to various temperature regimes. He is also an expert on tulip diseases.
Most spring bulbs can get a Fusarium fungal infection (ref 2). Each type of bulb has its own species of Fusarium, but they behave similar to one another. The fungus grows best in warmer temperatures. So planting late fall will reduce the incidence of Fusarium, resulting in healthier bulbs in spring.
Where does Fusarium come from? It can live in soil and if the soil is highly infected, it may remain infected for 10-15 years – this is not clearly understood yet. Planting annually in the same spot using the same type of bulb can create a spot where the bulb does not do well because they get killed or damaged by Fusarium.
You can image that this disease is a major problem for bulb producing companies who replant yearly. As a result, Fusarium is frequently found on new bulb purchases. This is one reason why it might be a better idea to plant new bulbs later, once the soil is cooler.
I asked Dr. Miller if Fusarium could explain why some people don’t see any spring growth from their tulips and he said yes. Is it possible that squirrels get blamed for robbing bulbs when the real problem is disease?
If you are planting bulbs and you see any kind of fungal disease on the bulb it is best not to plant them. Discard them in the garbage. Reference 2 shows pictures of the fungus on tulips and gives a good description of the disease.
What about bulbs planted in previous years – can they get Fusarium? I have not seen a clear answer to this. Since the fungus lives in soil it is certainly possible, but it seems as if the major source of the fungus is handling during the production process. Once you have clean bulbs and plant them, it is less of a concern.
When Should You Plant Spring bulbs?
For root growth and bulb development, early is better. For disease control, late is better. The best time is a compromise between the two.
Dr. William Miller made this suggestion, “Soil temperature for planting should be under 15C (59F), and for tulips 13C (55F) would be better. Below 9C (48F), root growth is reduced as temperatures get cooler. Root growth for most spring bulbs is nearly zero at 0-1C (33F).” In zone 5 the best time to plant is October.
If you are digging up your own bulbs, and disease is not a serious concern, they should be planted as soon as possible. There is no advantage keeping them dry until the soil cools down. Any damaged or diseased bulbs should be discarded.
If bulbs are not planted on time, they can be planted until the soil is frozen solid. As Miller says, “late planting is better than not planting.” If you still have bulbs after the ground is frozen, plant them in pots and keep them in a cool spot. They will flower in spring and can be planted out the following year.
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The 5 Best Bulbs to Plant in Spring for Summer Blooms
While spring-blooming daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, and other fall-planted bulbs are great additions to any garden, summer-blooming bulbs also deserve a featured spot in the landscape. Planted in the spring, these summer beauties require very little maintenance and can be tucked right into existing garden beds. Planting spring bulbs means a lush garden, filled with fragrance and color all summer long.
When to plant spring bulbs
Summer-blooming bulbs are most often planted in the spring, as soon as the danger of frost has passed. Though the five bulbs featured below are winter-hardy down to USDA hardiness zone 5, planting them in the spring gives the bulbs plenty of time to get established before the next cold winter arrives. Plus, you’ll be planting them while the bulbs are still dormant and there are no stems or flower stalks that might accidentally be damaged during planting.
How to plant bulbs
Planting spring bulbs isn’t difficult, but there are some rules of green thumb you should follow when you plant bulbs.
- First, be sure to plant them at the proper depth. Most bulbs do best when planted two-and-a-half to three times deeper than they are tall. In other words, if the bulb itself is two inches tall, the base of the bulb should be about six inches deep after planting.
- Next, the majority of bulbs prefer well-drained soils. Do not plant bulbs in boggy areas where they’re prone to rot.
- And finally, bulbs grow best in soil amended with compost or other organic matter. Work a few shovels of compost into the area before planting spring bulbs.
5 bulbs to plant in spring
There are dozens of summer-flowering bulbs, but not all of them are winter-hardy. While dahlias, freesia, and calla lilies are beautiful plants, they won’t survive the winter in northern climates. But, these five exceptional favorites are both beautiful and winter-hardy.
- Oriental lilies: The large, fragrant blooms of Oriental lilies are total show-stoppers in the garden. With scores of varieties available, there’s a broad range of colors and heights to choose from. Space Oriental lily bulbs about a foot apart, and be sure to stake the stems as they grow; their blossoms are heavy, and they’ll need the extra support.
- Crocosmia: Just like gladiolus and crocus, this perennial plant technically grows from corms (storage organs similar to bulbs). Reaching about three feet in height, the sword-like foliage is bright green. In mid-summer, stalks of arching flowers extend above the leaves. Common flower colors are red, orange, and yellow, depending on the variety. Crocosmia prefers full sun, and hummingbirds are frequently found dining on its nectar.
- Asiatic Lilies: Asiatic lilies differ greatly from their Oriental cousins mentioned above. They are earlier blooming, fragrance-free, and brighter colored. Their flowers aren’t typically as large as Oriental lilies and their stems are sturdier, so they don’t require extra support.
- Chinese ground orchids (Bletilla): If you’re looking for a summer-blooming bulb that prefers the shade, the Chinese ground orchid is for you. Though it officially grows from a bulbous rhizome, this plant is generally categorized as a summer-blooming bulb. A terrestrial orchid, hardy down to USDA zone 5 with a layer of winter mulch, the Chinese ground orchid reaches a mere eighteen inches in height. The distinctive, Cattleya-like flowers come in white, purple, or lavender, and over time, the plants will spread and create a nice colony.
- Hardy Begonia (Begonia Grandis): With a layer of mulch, this hardy, shade-loving bulb can survive a very cold winter. The leaves of this begonia are shaped like a lopsided heart and are green on top and burgundy beneath. They’re topped in midsummer by masses of pink or white flowers. Though the hardy begonia is late to emerge in the spring, once it does, there’s no stopping it. This begonia naturalizes beautifully and reaches about two feet in height.
There’s no doubt that planting spring bulbs brings a blast of summer pizzazz to the landscape – something everyone can appreciate.
Using the Hardiness Zone Map
We want you to get the best results from what you select. That is why we have provided this Hardiness Zone Map. The Hardiness Zones are based on the average minimum temperatures for each zone. Many factors, such as sun, wind, snow cover or rainfall in your mini climate can also affect the minimum temperatures in your area as presented by this map.
Find your hardiness zone by zip code:
Once you have determined the zone you live in you can use the chart as well as the zone listings in each of our product descriptions to determine which varieties are best for your garden. Keep in mind that the lower number indicates the most northerly area where plants will survive the winter, and the higher number is the most southerly area where they will perform consistently. For instance, if the description gives a range of zones 4-7, it means that the plant will perform well and winter over in zones 4,5,6, and 7. Many of our varieties do grow well outside the zone recommended. However, in northern areas, some varieties may have to be lifted and stored and in the south, some varieties may have to be planted in shaded cooler areas.
Sometimes you will see that a plant is hardy from “zones 3-8.” What this is telling you is that experience has shown that the plant does not do well in zones with temperatures higher than those that are normal in zone 8. This is based on experience – it doesn’t take long to discover that a plant native to colder areas of the north is consistently going crisp when it spends its summers in the south. It is not based on meteorological data.
If you really want a good look at your area, then the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is also a good resource.
If you have a question, either call our Customer Service line, or consult your local County Agricultural Agent.
Those numbers that always seem to go along with a plant description can be confusing. What exactly does it mean when a plant is hardy to your zone? What this is telling you is how much cold the plant can withstand without freezing to death. Climate zones are based on the average low temperatures that each area of the country has in winter. Meteorologists have arrived at this figure by averaging the temperatures over a 15 year period for each different region of the country.
To find your hardiness zone, enter your zip code in the box to the right. Once you know your zone, you can predict with fair accuracy whether or not a given plant will survive your winter cold.
The lower your zone number, the lower your average low temperature will be. Zone 5, for instance, had an average low temperature of -20°F for the years from 1974 through 1986. This doesn’t mean it was always that cold – just that it was unusual for there ever to be a night colder than that. In zone 10, the average low temperature is going to be well above zero (typically it is between 30 and 40° F), meaning that it is unlikely that a plant would ever freeze to death in that zone – although weather can be unpredictable, and freezes happen even in Florida.
Ship Date/Hardiness Zone
|Zone||Lowest Winter Temperature||Spring Catalog Shipping Begins||Fall Catalog Shipping Begins|
|Zone 1||-50° to -40° F||Early May||Mid September|
|Zone 2||-40° to -30° F||Early May||Mid September|
|Zone 3||-30° to -20° F||Early May||Mid September|
|Zone 4||-20° to -10° F||Mid-Late April||Mid September|
|Zone 5||-10° to 0° F||Mid April||Late September|
|Zone 6||0° to 10° F||Late March – Early April||Late September|
|Zone 7||10° to 20° F||Mid – Late March||Mid October|
|Zone 8||20° to 30° F||Early – Mid March||Mid October|
|Zone 9||30° to 40° F||Mid February||Late October|
|Zone 10||40° to 50° F||Mid February||Late October|
|Zone 11||Above 50° F||Mid February||Late October|
Have another question? Return to the Customer Service Help page or send an e-mail directly to Customer Service
SERIES 19 | Episode 31
- Plants in the genus Narcissus are from the Amaryllidaceae family and include the typical trumpet flowered yellow daffodils and the multi-headed sweet smelling jonquils.
- They’re best suited to cooler districts in the southern states of Australia.
- Varieties are available that flower from mid winter to well into spring.
- Daffodils are happy in full-sun or part-shade, but don’t plant them in dense shade or they won’t flower.
- They’re great to grow in either pots or as mass drifts in the garden.
- Plant them under deciduous trees like flowering cherries and they will grow beautifully.
- They need good drainage so at planting time, dig in a whole lot of organic matter.
- Plant your bulbs as the weather cools down through autumn.
- Plant twice as deep as the width of the bulb.
- Feed them with complete fertiliser when the flowers are open as this feeds the bulb for the following year’s flower.
- For the same reason, when the flowers have finished, let the foliage die down naturally because the bulb continues to store nutrients. Leave them for six to eight weeks or even longer if you can. It looks a little tatty, but that’s one of those things you do with daffodils.
- When they are completely dormant, it’s time to lift and divide them.
- If after four or five years, the bulbs are getting crowded, it might mean you get less flowers and that is the time to fork them up. Shake off the loose soil. Put them in a cool and airy spot, maybe in the garage, and replant in autumn.
- There are many varieties available, with different colours and single and double flowers. Narcissus ‘Erlicheer’ has tight clusters of creamy coloured flowers on straight stems. And the fragrance is incredible. Pick a small bunch for indoors and your whole room will smell wonderful.