Gardening 101 | Spring Planted Bulbs | Tips & Tricks

It’s Hard to Keep a Good Bulb Down…


Wow…I just checked the date of my last post. Can’t believe it’s been almost exactly a month since the last time I wrote. The “spring” has been anything but here in the Upper Midwest so I’m blaming my recent lack of motivation on the weather patterns. I literally have challenged myself to limiting my amount of complaining about the weather to 30 seconds per day — gives me just enough time to vent and get it out of my system without ruining the whole day.

All complaining aside, today is gorgeous. A bit chilly yet with the breeze but I’ll settle for just about any temperature above freezing as long as the sun is out!

Wanting to take full advantage of the day we’ve been blessed with, I headed out to the garden for a bit to dig some holes for several bulbs and perennials that were practically begging me to be planted. You know the type I mean: the ones that just can no longer be contained in their packages, reaching up through any open space to put forth their new growth. At this time of the year, it is not uncommon for bulb suppliers (such as Holland Bulb Farms) to experience some growth from certain types of bulbs and plants, even though they remain above ground. I have visited the Holland Bulb Farms warehouse and believe me, they have coolers larger than the entire first floor of my house to keep these naturally prone “anxious growers” in as much of a dormant state as possible. But sometimes, it’s just not possible! While this fresh growth is most definitely a sign of a healthy bulb or root system, it can cause a bit of anxiety (all-be-it unnecessary) during the planting process. So I thought I’d share with you a few tips to help ease your mind if you happen to have a bulb filled with vigor begging you as well…

Planting Bulbs and Roots

If the sprouts of the bulb or perennial root tend to be a bit distorted due to the confines of the packaging, give it a little bit of time (30 minutes or so) to relax a bit prior to trying to plant it.  If it is still a bit crooked or twisted, don’t worry. You’ll be amazed at what getting it in the ground will do!

Straighten Out the Stem

Plant at Recommended Depth
One of the most common questions I receive in regards to planting bulbs which are already beginning to grow is in reference to the planting depth. If the bulb you are planting has already begun to sprout it is important that you plant the bulb at its recommended depth. For instance, one of the bulbs which has a strong tendency to sprout early is that of the oriental lily or asiatic lily. Lily bulbs should be planted at a depth of 4-6″. This means that if the bulb you are putting in the ground already has 3″ of growth on it, you may just barely — if at all — see the tip of the new growth poking out of the soil when you are finished. The same goes for any bulb which may have already begun to sprout. Gladiolus often will begin to put up little points of growth after they have been harvested. Simply dig your hole as you would for any gladiolus bulb (3-4″ deep) and place the bulb in the bottom of the hole with point of growth facing up.

Backfill with Soil
When placing the bulb in the hole you have prepared, gently attempt to straight the stem as much as possible. Backfill with dirt firmly enough that the stem is supported and directed upright. Be careful not to snap the stem if at all possible. If this does happen, all is not lost! The bulb may or may not produce a second shoot this season. If it fails to do so, it will in the following year so you’ll just have to be patient 🙂

Broken Stem
When planting perennial root starts, a little bit of visible growth is definitely a good thing! The rules of thumb are the same as far as depth goes: look at the plant to see where it changes from root to plant growth and try to keep this point at the soil line as much as possible. Planting too deep will cause the plant to rot and planting to high out of the ground will cause the root system to dry out.


Wow, did it feel good to get in the dirt again! Do you have plans to do the same this weekend?

Need Gardening Help?

If you need any help with gardening or if you have plant-related questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to Jenny San Filippo. She can provide you with the knowledge and tools needed to succeed with your next project!

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