When to order bulbs for next Spring

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Know when to order bulbs for stunning Spring blooms in your garden

As the snow melts and the first showy daffodils of the season begin to emerge, you might be kicking yourself for not having planted your own flowers in time to brighten the garden this year. If you are new to gardening with bulbs, donít kick yourself too hard. These home gardeners and landscapers got a jump on the season months ago, long before you were even thinking about spring.  

Most spring blooming flowers require a dormant period, sitting chilly for a time before the temperatures rise to indicate that spring is here and it's time to wake up. For this reason, it's important to plant them in autumn so they can weather the winter underground. The secret, then, to having bulbs ordered and planted in time to bloom next spring is to order in the late summer to fall.  

Get a Jump on the Ordering Season

If you order bulbs online or through a catalog, keep in mind that many businesses offer early bird sales. The advantage of ordering early, aside from taking advantage of potential discounts, is that you often have a wider variety to choose from and can order those hot new variegated hybrid tulips before the masses discover them (since a lot of people won't be thinking about bulbs until September) and the grower sells out.  

Another great thing about making your spring flower orders in July or August is that it gives you time to make a real plan. A lot of the flowers you'd admired enviously the spring before are still at least somewhat fresh in your mind. You can take note of what came up strong and what bloomed the longest in your area.

This is a great time to walk your grounds--be they sprawling, modest, or downright tiny--and get a sense of where you want things, your color scheme, your style. Get out pencil and paper, along with some favorite gardening websites and catalogs, and draw out your planting areas. Do the research to find out just how many plants you'll need, how much space they need to grow, and what conditions they require (like sunlight, moisture, and alkaline or acidic soil).

Keep in mind how they will work together. You love the idea of having dainty Snowdrops popping up through actual snow (did that site say they could actually bloom in January?), but will they be smothered if you grow them too close to the bright yellow species tulips on your list?

These are the details you want to have worked out before placing your order and ending up with bulbs you can't use once your spade hits the dirt.  

For the Procrastinators

It happens to the best of us.

You're whiling away the summer--running kids around to swim parties, tending to your ever-thirsty vegetable garden, cooking out every night, and generally having the time of your life--when the next thing you know the kids are back in school, it's October, and you still haven't ordered any bulbs!

It's okay. There's still time. Just a little, perhaps, depending on where you live, but you have some weeks just the same. This is the last minute, and now you must act if you want to have your crocuses and grow them, too. You may miss out on some of the trendy new hybrids, but there are still plenty of beautiful varieties to choose from.

Get thee to the internet and see what you can find.  It could be feast or famine, depending on the year. But, also know this, sometimes limited choices make for the greatest creativity. You can make this work. As long as you get them in hand and planted before the ground freezes, you're going to have a delightful spring.  

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