- Plant bulbs now, don’t fret about water, and be dazzled by spring | The Sacramento Bee
- Curing Hyacinths: When To Dig Up Hyacinth Bulbs For Storing
- When to Dig Up Hyacinth Bulbs for Storing
- How to Cure Hyacinth Bulbs
- Forcing Flower Bulbs For Winter Joy
- Transplanting A Hyacinth
- Can You Transplant Grape Hyacinths: Moving Grape Hyacinth Bulbs
- Can You Transplant Grape Hyacinths?
- When to Transplant Grape Hyacinths
- How to Transplant Grape Hyacinths
- How to Save Hyacinth Bulbs
Plant bulbs now, don’t fret about water, and be dazzled by spring | The Sacramento Bee
Bulbs are a wonder of nature. Each bulb is actually an underground flower factory, containing everything that plant will need to sprout, grow, bloom and reproduce. That’s one reason they’re ideal for low-water gardens. They don’t need much moisture to start and complete this flower-making process. Thousands of bulb varieties are available for gardeners from amaryllis to zephyranthes. Do some research before buying for your specific garden needs.
▪ Some bulbs – such as tulips and hyacinths – need to be chilled before planting in Northern California. That re-sets their biological clock and cues the bloom cycle. In areas with snowy winters, these bulbs get chilled in the ground. In Sacramento, they need to spend six weeks in the refrigerator before fall planting. While the bulbs are chilling, avoid keeping apples or pears in the refrigerator; those fruits emit a gas that can rot the bulbs.
▪ Plant spring-blooming bulbs in fall, September to early December. If possible, stagger the plantings over three or four weeks to extend the bloom season next spring. Bulbs planted now will bloom in March or April.
▪ Bulbs need good drainage but not much water until they sprout. Ideally, they like sandy loam, but will tolerate almost any soil. If your soil is heavy clay, add compost to improve drainage. Add a little bone meal or bulb food to the flower bed or container just before planting.
▪ Plant bulbs two times deeper than the height of the bulb. Most bulbs are planted pointy end up. Put a teaspoon of bone meal in each hole before placing the bulb or, for a group planting, spread a handful of bone meal over the bottom of the planting hole. Back fill with soil to cover the bulbs. Water deeply just once. Then, wait.
▪ Before you forget where you planted them, make a map of bulb locations including varieties and planting dates and keep it with your garden notes. Place garden markers at bulb locations before or after they sprout.
▪ Winter rain usually takes care of any irrigation needs for the bulbs before they sprout. If there’s no rain for a month, give them another slow, deep watering. But bulbs prefer to be kept relatively dry.
▪ After they bloom, leave the foliage on the bulbs. That’s gathering energy and restocking the bulb’s underground reserves. Once the foliage has died back, it can be trimmed. Most bulbs can be left in the ground undisturbed. (They like dry summers.) Dig up tulips and hyacinths to re-chill.
Planting bulb ‘lasagna’
Bulbs can form an intense display when they’re overplanted in layers, “lasagna” style. This can be done in the ground or in a large container, at least one foot deep with good drainage.
If planting in a container, cover the bottom with at least 4 inches of potting soil. Sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of bone meal for every dozen bulbs. Place the biggest bulbs (such as tulips or daffodils) in a layer on the bottom, pointing up. Space them about 2 inches apart. Cover with 2 inches of potting soil.
Plant another layer of bulbs such as hyacinths or alliums, leaving about 2 inches between each bulb. (Don’t worry about where the spaces line up; the bulbs underneath will find the gaps.) Cover with another 2 inches of soil. Sprinkle another tablespoon of bone meal. Scatter over the top of the soil some shallow-rooted corms or rhizomes such as anemones or ranunculus. Lightly cover with more soil.
Gently tamp down the soil and soak. Your “lasagna” bulb garden will sprout in late February or March.
▪ Another form of lasagna planting with fewer layers is to use annual flowers over the bulbs. (The annuals also can replace the top layer of anemones or ranunculus in the three-layer example.) After the bulbs are in place, overplant shallow-rooted annuals such as pansies or Iceland poppies on top. While you wait for the bulbs to bloom, the annuals provide color through the winter.
Also try planting crocus or daffodils under low-water herbs such as thyme or oregano. The bulbs offer bursts of spring color and a surprising touch to herb gardens or borders.
Bulbs in containers
Pots of almost all sizes can be used for tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other spring bloomers. The main criteria for bulb containers are enough depth (daffodils and tulips need about 6 inches, measuring from the base of the bulb) and good drainage.
Fill the bottom of the container with potting mix up to the planting depth. Sprinkle a layer of bone meal and mix lightly into this bottom layer. Place one to three bulbs in the center, then arrange others in circles around those middle bulbs until the container is filled. It’s OK to crowd them in with only an inch or two of separation.
A dozen bulbs fit easily into a 10-inch pot; six will fill a 6-inch container. A half wine barrel can hold at least 30. (Ironstone Winery, known for its massive bulb displays, puts 75 bulbs per half wine barrel.) Cover the bulbs with more potting mix until they sit at their proper depth.
To add a little winter color before the bulbs emerge, overplant with shallow-rooted annuals such as pansies or violas (six plants work well for a 10-inch pot). Place in a sunny location and water as needed.
In February, the bulbs will start pushing through the annuals and bloom in March or April, giving you a changing bouquet through late winter into spring.
Because these flower are in pots, you can move your display around as needed. (You can even bring them indoors for a day or two.) After the bulbs fade, move the container to a less conspicuous part of your garden where the bulbs can recharge for next year’s bloom.
Curing Hyacinths: When To Dig Up Hyacinth Bulbs For Storing
A potted hyacinth is one of the most popular spring gifts. When its bulbs are forced, it can bloom heartily on your dining room table when ground outside is still covered in snow, providing a very welcome promise of spring to come. Once that hyacinth has bloomed, however, don’t throw it away! With just a little effort, you can turn that one-time gift into a staple of your house or garden that will bloom year after year. Keep reading to learn about hyacinth bulb curing and storing hyacinth bulbs.
When to Dig Up Hyacinth Bulbs for Storing
It’s important not to dig up your hyacinth bulbs at the wrong time, or else your bulbs may not have enough energy to sprout. Once the blooms have passed, cut off the blossom stalk to keep the plant from wasting energy on seed production. Keep the leaves, and continue to water them as usual – the leaves are essential for storing up energy in the bulb.
When the leaves start to brown, reduce your watering by half. Only when the leaves have died completely should you stop watering. When the soil has dried out, carefully dig up the bulb and remove the dead foliage.
Curing hyacinths is very easy. Lay the bulbs out on a newspaper in a cool, dark place for three days. After that, store them in a cool, dark location in a mesh bag. They’re now ready to be planted in your garden in the autumn or forced indoors in late winter.
How to Cure Hyacinth Bulbs
If your hyacinths are growing outdoors, there’s no real reason to dig them up and cure them – they’ll come back naturally in the spring. However, if you want to move them to a new spot, there’s no reason you can’t.
While your hyacinths are still above ground, mark their exact spot with a stake – once they die back, it will be very hard to find the bulbs. In autumn, carefully dig up the bulbs and lay them out on newspaper, then store them in a mesh bag.
The process of curing hyacinths is just the same as with forced bulbs. They’re now ready to plant or force as you choose.
Forcing Flower Bulbs For Winter Joy
Forcing Bulbs For Winter Joy
Waiting for those eagerly anticipated spring flowers can be exciting, but there comes a point when it can turn a bit dreary. Those winter months can be so very long…and so very grey…If only there was something that could make those happy flower bulbs start blooming a little earlier…
What if I told you that you can make your winter wishes come true this year? That you can have your favorite spring colors grow indoors for you, whenever you want? The name of this gardening magic is bulb forcing, although the word coaxing would describe the process a bit better. All you have to do is trick the bulbs into believing winter has come and gone, and they will present their hidden spring delights in any season.
The most commonly forced flower bulbs are hyacinths, paperwhites, muscari (grape hyacinths), amaryllis, tulips and crocus.
For a flower bulb to understand that it’s time to start flowering, it needs to have had a few months of hibernation. If you plant your bulbs in the garden in the fall, nature will take care of this for you. While you go about your life, the cold and dark conditions underground will help flower bulbs to produce good roots that can support amazing blooms once the plant ‘wakes up’. Forcing flower bulbs is all about simulating this process, but at a time that you have chosen.
Forcing Bulbs in water
The first thing you have to do is simulate winter by pre-chilling your flower bulbs. This means keeping them in a dry, cold place where it’s between 35 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit, for 12 to 15 weeks, depending on the variety. The easiest place to chill your flower bulbs is in your fridge, although make sure not to chill them next to fruit or vegetables, as these might adversely affect the process. Simply place them in a paper bag and leave them in the cold for as long as this specific bulb variety needs to pre-chill. Other good places to pre-chill your flower bulbs are a barely heated garage, a barn, a cool basement or an enclosed porch.
Glass vessels and pretty pebbles
Once the chilling time is over you can start forcing your flower bulb in water. To do this you can use any glass vessel (vase, bowl, square vase). The key is to place your bulb in such a way that only the very bottom gets wet. A good way to do this is by filling the glass with pebbles and nesting the bulbs together on the very top. You can get a lovely effect by placing 3 hyacinth bulbs together, or a mix of 12 tulip bulbs. Place them tight together so they give you a good flower show and will support each other when growing. Then fill the vessel with water but only just up to the bottom of the bulbs. Place the vase in a brightly lit room and after a few weeks you will be presented with an amazing antidote for the winter blues!
Forcing bulbs in soil
To force a flower bulb in soil, you chill them after planting. Take a clay pot and cover its bottom with about 1 inch of gravel. Then fill the pot with at least two inches of soil mix. Great flower bulbs for soil forcing are bright-yellow miniature daffodils or hyacinths, as they will add a touch of cheerful color and lovely fragrance to a room and make wonderful centerpieces for a table. Place the bulbs in the pot, very closely together, then cover up completely with soil and water them. Place the pot in a cold basement or in a refrigerator (but not with fruit or vegetables) and leave it there for about 10 to 15 weeks depending on how long your chosen variety needs. Do check often to make sure the bulbs don’t get too dry. Make sure not to over water them. Flower bulbs like water but when they sit in it they will start to rot. When the first shoots appear you take the pot out of the refrigerator but leave it in a cool place (60F) for about a week. When the sprouts begin to turn green, you move the pot to a sunny window, and water the bulbs daily. Watch them grow, and chase the winter blahs away with your wonderful spring-preview!
If you crave some springtime loveliness in your house, but feel you can’t wait 10-12 weeks, I have good news for you. The lovely paperwhite and amaryllis bulbs don’t need any chilling at all before you start forcing them. Quick and easy to start, they’ll bloom within six to ten weeks of forcing. Order them today and give yourself indoor blooms not only for the holidays but throughout the winter by planting them batch after batch.
Optimal weeks of cold per flower bulb specie:
- Muscari (Grape Hyacinths) – 10 weeks
- Hyacinths – 12 weeks
- Tulips – 14 weeks
- Crocus – 10 weeks
- Daffodils – 12 weeks
Transplanting A Hyacinth
Hyacinth is a hardy perennial that spreads by sprouting smaller bulbs off its main bulb. You can transplant outside once the bulbs are established, after about 3 years of growth. Follow these steps to ensure the minimum of shock and maximum of bloom in summer for your transplanted hyacinths.
Step 1: Transplant in Late Spring
You can transplant hyacinths in the fall, but it is easier to find the bulb clumps in the late spring once the flowers have bloomed and dropped off.
Step 2: Dig Deep to Get the Root Ball and Bulb Clump
Use a garden trowel or spade to dig vertically into the ground a few inches away from the main stem. Push the trowel or spade down 6 inches to avoid cutting the bulb clump or root system. Gently lean down on the handle of the trowel or spade to lever the bulb clump up to the surface. The bulb should be at the center of a clump, with several small offsets attached.
Divide up the bulb clump, and carefully extract the largest offsets. Some of these will have their own small bulbs attached. These are the best candidates for transplanting.
Step 3: Choose and Prepare the Transplant Location
Dig a hole for a mass planting about 6 inches deep. Make the hole about 15 inches in diameter. Add bulb fertilizer and cover it with garden soil.
Step 4: Transplant the Hyacinth Bulbs
Choose 3 of the bulb offsets and plant them at the bottom of the hole, 4 to 5 inches apart. Press the dirt down firmly for support. Water until soil is soaked, providing more water for the next 3 days till roots are settled. If you have sufficient space, plant more groups of hyacinths in the same manner.
Step 5: Results
Your transplanted hyacinths will need a period of cold weather in which to lie dormant before they will bloom again. Leave them alone after transplanting and monitor their growth next spring.
Step 6: Care and Maintenance
Water sparingly, but provide more in the dry period of late summer. Deadhead the blooms grown from bulbs to retain nourishment. If you have purchased self-sowing hyacinths, leave the flowers on till they drop off of their own accord.
Guard your hyacinth bulbs from digging pests and rodents by fencing them off. Alternatively, if rodents are chewing on the bulbs, dig them up again carefully and install hardware cloth (a stiff fabric with wire mesh embedded in it) to create a barrier that will safeguard the roots.
In cases where the growth is weak or slow, check for symptoms of insect or disease infestation. Destroy diseased bulbs and dig out old soil. Then add fresh topsoil with some sand and fertilize. Guard against overwatering as well, as this will encourage the growth of fungus.
Hyacinth bulbs are hardy in winter down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit, so there is no need to cover them or bring them in for the winter.
Can You Transplant Grape Hyacinths: Moving Grape Hyacinth Bulbs
One of the first blooms of spring, the gardener who is impatiently waiting is always glad to see the tiny clusters of miniature grape hyacinths begin to bloom. After a few years, the blooms may falter from overcrowding. At this time, you might wonder about digging and transplanting grape hyacinth bulbs.
Can You Transplant Grape Hyacinths?
Moving grape hyacinth bulbs from one area to another is a great use of the multiplied plant. It takes several years of growth before this plant stops blooming because of overcrowding in the bed. If your bulbs have been growing in the same spot without division for a long while, you can transplant grape hyacinths into other spots in the landscape.
When to Transplant Grape Hyacinths
Learning when to transplant grape hyacinths is not hard, because they are flexible and quite tough.
Botanically known as Muscari armeniacum, moving grape hyacinth bulbs is best done in late summer. You can also begin transplanting grape hyacinth bulbs in autumn when you’re moving, transplanting and planting other spring blooming bulbs.
You can even move grape hyacinth bulbs in spring. Replant them quickly and water in and you might even keep the bloom. It is easier to find the bulbs if you dig them in summer, however, before the foliage is completely died back.
Using the planting technique of layering, you can transplant tiny grape hyacinth bulbs near or even on top of other spring bulbs with a later bloom time. If you must move grape hyacinth bulbs at another time of year, they will probably survive. Leave the foliage intact until it dies back.
How to Transplant Grape Hyacinths
Start by making a small trench around the entire cluster of foliage. As grape hyacinths are propagated by the small bulbs (called offsets) that have grown attached to the mother bulb, you’ll want to dig the entire bunch and then separate them.
Offsets that have developed a root system will easily break off. When moving grape hyacinth bulbs, take the biggest offsets to plant alone into their own space. Leave the tiny new bulbs attached to the mother for another couple of years.
When transplanting grape hyacinth bulbs, you can separate the smallest if you like, but they may not flower for a couple more years and may not have enough energy to survive alone.
Dig a wide, shallow hole for the bulbs you’re transplanting. Grape hyacinths do not need to be planted close together; allow room for offsets to develop. You can also transplant grape hyacinths into a container for a full sun area indoors.
Now that you’ve learned how to transplant grape hyacinth bulbs, you’ll find many areas of the landscape where they’re a welcome addition.
How to Save Hyacinth Bulbs
Hyacinth is considered a spring bulb like daffodils and tulips. They bloom shortly after the ground thaws in spring, bringing early color to your garden. Hyacinths come in a range of colors including white, pink and blue. Hardy plants, hyacinth bulbs overwinter in the ground, even in cold winter areas. Storing bulbs is only necessary when you desire to move the hyacinth bulbs to a new bed or force them indoors or when it is time to separate the bulbs—approximately every two to three years.
Use plant markers or stakes to mark the location of the hyacinth bulbs as soon as they bloom. Once the leaves die back, the bulbs are nearly impossible to locate. Use caution when driving in the markers not to pierce or damage the bulbs.
Wait for the leaves to die back completely. Leaves are necessary for hyacinth bulbs to store up the energy for next year’s blooming, and digging them up too early may damage the bulbs.
Dig around the bulbs with a garden trowel. Avoid hitting or nicking the hyacinth bulbs while digging. Lift them out of the soil and brush off excess soil. Dispose of any rotten or diseased-looking bulbs.
Lay the hyacinth bulbs on newspaper without them touching each other. Leave the bulbs in a dry area out of sunlight for three to five days until they dry out. Brush off any remaining soil.
Store the bulbs in a mesh bag hanging in a cool, dry place until it’s time for replanting in the fall or forcing in late winter.