We have had some cool mornings and some very nice warm days. This is the kind of weather that should inspire you to work in your yard.

It is a rite of passage each spring in your local garden centers. People will walk through the doors in late April and ask where the tulip bulbs are located in the store.

The customer has seen some of the early blooming tulips in flower in someone’s yard, and they want to have some tulips blooming in their own yard. The employee in the garden center then has to explain that they do not have any tulip bulbs for sale. The customer usually asks why not, and the store employee has to explain that the spring flowering bulbs have to be planted in the fall. A disappointed potential customer walks out the door. Let me help you to not be one of those customers.

At this time of the year, you will find displays of what are known as spring flowering bulbs. As the name implies, these bulbs will flower in the spring. This type of display will contain all kinds of tulips, daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths and many other types of small bulbs. The reason that you find these bulbs in stores now is because the bulbs need to be planted in the fall if you want them to flower in the spring.

Let me explain to you why they need to be planted in the fall.

The reason that these bulbs need to be planted in the fall is because they need changes in soil temperatures to initiate the flowering of the bulbs. When you plant the bulbs in the fall, they will develop a strong root system. This is important because the bulbs will need to take up a fair amount of water in the spring to help them in the flowering process.

As the soil temperatures begin to drop, the bulbs go dormant for the winter. As the soil warms in the spring, a reaction begins in the bulbs that makes them put out their flower stalks and eventually form the buds that open into flowers.

If the bulbs do not have this period of cold soil temperatures followed by warming soil temperatures, they will not give you the flowers that you are looking for. This is the reason that you do not plant spring flowering bulbs in the spring. If you want the spring flowering bulbs to flower in your yard next spring, it’s time to get them planted.

People often ask how long they can wait to plant the bulbs in the fall. The answer is that September and October are usually the normal time frame for planting the spring flowering bulbs.

Even if you are not planning on putting the bulbs in the ground right now, you should be buying your bulbs soon. Generally speaking, the bulb wholesalers begin to back off on what they have to offer to stores around the first part of October. Neither the wholesalers nor the stores want to get stuck with bulbs if the ground freezes early.

If you see a particular color or a new variety that you like, buy them now. When your schedule allows you time to plant, you will have the bulbs that you really want.

Next week, I’ll tell you what you need to know to correctly plant the spring flowering bulbs and how to make a nice splash of color for not a lot of money.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week. 

Tim Lamprey has worked in the lawn and garden industry for 45 years. 

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