Planting bulbs late

by Adam Pasco

The same thing happens every year. I buy my bulbs in good time, and then don't make time to plant them! I've got a huge bag of tulips and other bulbs to be planted...

Daffodil flowersThe same thing happens every year. I buy my bulbs in good time, and then don't make time to plant them! I've got a huge bag of tulips and other bulbs to be planted, but it will soon be December.

Other things got in the way during October, and then I had an operation on my foot, preventing me from doing anything for three weeks except keep my foot up. This is very frustrating, especially as I keep looking down the garden and imagining the pots and compost on the greenhouse bench just waiting for me to get to work. They'll still be there at the end of the month when I'm back in action, but I'm worried the bulbs won't settle down quickly enough to catch up on lost time.

But late bulb planting isn't all my fault. I'm rather annoyed that the bulbs I ordered from one mail order supplier in October still haven't arrived. It was actually Kate Bradbury, one of my fellow bloggers on this site, who led me to make another bulb order.

In her blog Growing daffodils, Kate mentioned an early flowering narcissus called 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' (sometimes just called 'Early Sensation') that promised blooms from January. I'd not heard heard of this daffodil before, so I had to grow it, and put an order in straight away. The only problem is that the bulbs still haven't arrived, although the nursery promises me they will do soon, and be in flower next year.

Another late bulb delivery this week was a collection of Festival multiflora hyacinths. Rather than producing a single flower stem per bulb the Festival hyacinth produces a mini forest of stems, each carrying a small head of flower. It comes in blue, pink and white, and I'm hoping that a single bulb per pot will produce a really good display.

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Gardeners' World Web User 17/11/2009 at 20:38

I planted Narcissus poeticus in quantity last December and was rewarded with a lovely show of daffodils when all the others were long gone. The perfume too was much stronger as the days were warmer. Tulips never seem to mind going in late - you just have to keep them dry or else mildew will strike.

Gardeners' World Web User 20/11/2009 at 17:15

So glad to hear that the experts don't always do it by the book! I planted my bulbs yesterday, having been preoccupied by lots of family goings on recently, and look forward to Spring. I'm with happymarion when it comes to narcissus poeticus - always my favourite.

Gardeners' World Web User 21/11/2009 at 16:49

I've still have afew bulbs left, mostly small ones. I will probably just stick them in pots.

Gardeners' World Web User 23/11/2009 at 12:23

I just picked up the purple parrot tulip Muriel as well as the orange Annie Schilder in a late-season sale...they arrived fast & I just need to find the time to get them down. The increasing info about late tulip planting prompted me to buy...and it's so nice to get a bargain.

Gardeners' World Web User 25/11/2009 at 16:37

I'm in the same boat, although I did manage to get my daffodils and narcissi planted a couple of weeks ago. Last year I planted a whole lot of bulbs in December and was delighted with the display. The daffodils flowered several weeks after the established bulbs, prolonging the display, and the tulips seemed not to have noticed that they were in so late. We've had wet and windy weather almost every day here (off the west coast of Scotland) for the last few weeks. On the first good day, I'll put the tulip bulbs in pots and plant them out next year.

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