Would it be a waste of time planting bulbs in May for next year?

(13 Posts)
Lollylovesbones Tue 03-May-16 16:07:58

The council have levelled, top soiled and seeded a small patch outside my house. I have always loved the garden of a nearby house that has crocuses growing through the lawn in spring. If I planted bulbs now would they flower next spring?

Unremarkable Wed 04-May-16 08:21:02

I love crocuses in lawns too. But the squirrels are devils for eating the buried bulbs. Anyhow, I'd be surprised if you could find crocus bulbs at this time of year. Either way, you're better off just waiting until the autumn and choosing the fresh bulbs that are available then. They will want a cold snap so they flower in the spring. If you plant now you may not have good bulbs, they may rot away in the ground or they won't form flowers in the spring. It will give the grass a chance to establish too!

shovetheholly Wed 04-May-16 09:00:01

Wait til the autumn, and do it then! With a decent bulb planter, it's easy to get through turf. I did this in my lawn last autumn.

steppemum Wed 04-May-16 09:09:30

I'm glad I have seen this.

I have bulbs round the garden that flower each year, so they stay in the ground all year long.
I want to move some of them as they are in the wrong places, I need to dig them up now as I can see where they are now. I am going to put them all under a patch of lawn, so in the spring that patch has loads of spring bulbs.

I know that you should plant them in autumn, but I can't work out why it is ok to leave them in the ground, where they are as they have been for a few years, but it isn't OK to move them.
My mum the gardener says move them while they still have leaves and are growing.

Can anyone explain it to me? The bulbs concerned are crocus, daffs and tulips

shovetheholly Wed 04-May-16 09:17:40

I think it's because the phase just after flowering is really critical. The plant is basically sucking all its energy back into the bulb so it has enough to flower next year. This is why you deadhead daffs at this time - to stop the plant getting distracted into dividing its energy between seed and bulb. It's also why you don't cut off or tie the dying leaves, even though they look a bit manky.

If you move a plant at the point where it is at its lowest in terms of energy reserves, you will knock it back, and sometimes you can do a lot of damage that way, e.g. turning daffs blind. So with bulbs, you want to let the leaves die back and then move once they are all shrivelled and dead, which takes about 6-8 weeks on the whole. You should still be able to see where they are by the patches of dead leaves, enough to get a spade under them cleanly and move them for next year.

An exception to this is snowdrops, which can be planted in the green (though there seems to be controversy about this, with some people insisting they should be moved when dormant).

steppemum Wed 04-May-16 09:35:31

Thanks, I get that, but the question is, if I move them after 8 weeks, why can't I plant them directly into the new place, why do I need to wait until autumn to plant?
If I wasn't going to move them, they would stay in the ground, but it seems to be a no, no to plant them now.

Lollylovesbones Wed 04-May-16 10:18:00

Thanks - I will take the advice and wait til Autumn although I am with steppemum and don't understand the science behind this.

shovetheholly Wed 04-May-16 10:21:33

You don't need to wait. You can move daffs and crocuses that are in your garden once the leaves have died back. The best time to plant new bulbs (i.e. ones you have bought from the shop in a bag) is the autumn, since these have basically been fussed and fertilised so that they flower the following spring. Putting brand new bulbs in the ground now just risks them rotting over summer - they just don't tend to grow properly. I'm not sure why!

I wonder if you are thinking of tall (non-species) tulips? The 'right' method with these is deadhead, wait for the leaves to die, and lift, dry then store and replant in autumn. This is supposed to keep them cool and dry, the conditions they need to make flower buds for next year.

Some lazy people (like me) leave them in the soil, but what tends to happen with many of the more delicate varieties is that this weakens them to the point they don't flower and even just rot away. However, I find that things are only marginally better if I lift them - so, for me (on wet, heavy clay) it's not really worth the effort.

It really depends on the type of tulip though. I've noticed that some of the really bright red ones are as tough as old boots. In fact, I can't eradicate them from my garden. More delicate single pink ones need replanting every year, though.

steppemum Wed 04-May-16 11:58:16

that's really helpful Holly, thank you.

The tulips are ones I bought and put in about 4 years ago. This is their best year, not sure why! I am hoping if I ignore them they will just go on for a few more years.

shovetheholly Wed 04-May-16 12:09:59

Yes some of them seem to do that! There were some garish bright red and yellow tulips in my garden when I moved in - about the only flower in what was otherwise a bramble patch. I rooted them up and put them in the bin - they came back the next year. I dug them up again - they came back again.

Now, four years on, there are more than there were in the first place!! I am grudgingly admiring of their tenacity, and have decided to tolerate them as a relic of the past. I'll see if I can get a picture!!

Meanwhile, all the beautiful pink and purple tulips that I actually like bought for me by lovely BIL have lost their vigour and died. angry

Species tulips and the wild tulip, tulipa sylvestris, are an exception to the lift-and-dry routine too. They can just be whacked in the soil and left to get on with business. That's my kind of bulb. grin

shovetheholly Wed 04-May-16 12:16:41

Picture of Ye Unwanted Tulippes. As you can see, they do not go with my reddy purple and pink colour scheme. To the left are the sylvestris tulips, which have just gone over.

shovetheholly Wed 04-May-16 12:17:35

oops, try no 2

steppemum Wed 04-May-16 14:28:08

I like them!
But dh is dutch and there is a part of me that thinks all tulips should be tall straight and red somehow. (not that I actually have any like that)

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