Q. Why are bulbs planted in the fall?
One of the reasons we plant bulbs in the fall is so they can get established. Generally, the fall air temperature is colder but soil temperature remains warmer. With soil temperatures of at least 40-41°F, the bulbs will root out and establish but not produce any leaves. Even if the ground is frozen, the bulb will still root out, just more slowly which is fine because it still has time. This rooting is important so that when spring comes the plant is ready to flower.
Planting in early March yields uncertain results. At that time of year the air tends to be warmer and the soil colder. So the bulbs root out more slowly than in the fall. By the time they root out and get established it could be April, long after some of these bulbs typically flower. Another thing to consider is that you are altering their growth patterns by planting them in the spring. So who knows how this will affect them.
Plants do have a remarkable ability to adapt, so some bulbs may develop fine with spring planting.
Here is some additional information for you regarding bulb storage as follows:
· Temperature: Storing bulbs in the fridge is generally not a good idea. Refrigerator temperatures are usually set in the mid to high 30s. This is too cold for bulbs to be stored for a long time; they would do better with temperatures in the 40s or even low 50s.
· Air circulation: Good air circulation is critical for bulb storage. If they do not get enough air circulation, they can rot or be more susceptible to fungal diseases. Anything stored in a fridge will not get good air.
· Other food: Foods such as fruit emit ethylene gas, which can damage the flower developing inside the bulb.
Unless you have a refrigerator solely dedicated to bulbs and so can control temperature and off-gassing, you would probably be better off not storing them this way. It would be better to store the bulbs in an unheated basement or attached garage. Since these spaces can get very cold, try keeping the bulbs off the floor on a table or shelves. You can also use newspaper or bubble wrap to provided a little more protection, even indoors. Just be sure that when you wrap them, you do so very loosely to allow for good circulation.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service