Rescuing already-sprouted tulip bulbs

Updated Oct 12 2015
mswolfgang
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Photos by Chris Wolfgang

A spell of weirdly warm weather got me rummaging around in my little gardening closet, and I stumbled across something that would fill any home gardener with horror. I'd completely forgotten that I had bought a bunch of tulip and hyacinth bulbs late last summer.

And there they were. Starting to push shoots. Well, shit.

Most flower bulbs (heck, even some garlic bulbs) need to experience a period of cold before they'll bloom. (Science, man.) So you're supposed to plant them six inches deep in the fall, let them lie dormant all winter long, and ta-da! You'll have pretty blooms in early spring.

What I did was to shove them in a cold sunroom where I keep all my gardening shit and then forget about them all winter long.

When I saw them already pushing shoots, I grabbed a shovel and some bloodmeal and headed out to my front-yard garden.

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March is usually way too damn early to be planting anything in the Midwest, but here's what I'm hoping:

I'm hopeful that the sunroom was cold enough to mimic lying dormant in the ground for a few months. And that the frozen ground I just stuck them in won't kill the fresh shoots. And that if they do come up in late April, they'll actually bloom.

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What do you think, Homies? Are my tulips going to make it?

  1. I don't know, but good luck and I hope that they make it! Personally, I'm a terrible gardener, though I just keep trying. Please do send us an update later in the season.

    • I can just baaaarreelllyyyy see three lil sprouts peeking above the surface. My neighbors' tulips are already well on their ways, so I'm definitely behind considering I've got a few dozen more still to pop up at all. PLEASE BLOOM PLEASE.

      • Oh yaaaaay! Well, for what it's worth, here in central PA, a lot of bulbs are only just showing some sprouting, so your bulbs might still have a chance of blooming, I think…either way, you didn't kill them, right? In my gardening book, that's a win.

  2. I love bulbs! It's my current gardening obsession.
    I think in my head, bulbs are all english meadow-ey, wildflowers and bulbs seem to make me want to read Jane Austen beneath a large tree lol.
    I live in the southern hemisphere, where we've just finished summer, and had to move some daffodil bulbs on the weekend. Slightly surprised that they were already starting to grow (I know the daffodils flower early, but didn't realise they started growing at the end of summer :/ ). I am hoping they are okay to replant.
    Am trying hyacinths for the first time this year too. Would love to grow tulips but our ground is a bit soggy and would need to put them in a pot, just don't have patience for that 🙂
    Good luck with your bulbs! Post some pictures when they're flowering 🙂

    Edited to mention: My mother is of the opinion that bulbs are pretty hardy, she scoffed at my daffodil concern, I'm not sure if that is much help to you, but I would be interested to hear an update as to how your bulbs do.

  3. I put a ton of tulips in between MLK day, and I think the last ones went in… Maybe the week before of the Selma anniversary (I got Lift Every Voice and Sing stuck in my head both gardening sessions so that's why the odd memory). Anyway, my tulips are up and look great! The plants I put in during previous years, or transplanted during the summer are looking anemic or are just leaves. My goal this year is to work on fertilizing everything far more often. Oh, I am in the Carolinas to give you an idea of climate. Hopefully the Midwest weather bought you a few more weeks for them.

    • Yeah, I've heard that tulips can get pretty bare looking after a few years. Why can't I just stick something in the ground and have it come back year after year in full bloom always?

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