North Texas Bulb Growing Tips

Bulb-Growing Tips and Information for Successful Blooms

In general, it is best to plant bulbs in the Dallas area after October 1st. Why? Because each bulb actually contains its flower in the center of the bulb. It needs time to mature before planting. Planting bulbs too soon or storing bulbs in hot conditions can kill the flower inside the bulb, and it won’t bloom ever. (Buy bulbs from reputable nurseries where they are stored properly in cooler conditions for successful growing.)

Do not use a strong fertilizer in the bulb hole when planting, as it will burn the emerging roots. Use Bloodmeal when planting; it won’t harm the bulbs (and it’s good for pansies also). Bloodmeal should be sprinkled above the planting on top of the soil, not placed into the hole with the bulbs.

Daffodils can be planted as soon as temperatures begin to cool. That may be mid-September, and usually by October 1st. Tulips and hyacinth should be planted between Thanksgiving and the end of December. You can still plant tulips in January, but it is best to do it early in the month. Some bulbs are best planted in January, such as ranunculus and anemones.  Buy selections early and hold in a cool dry place until ready to plant. Store your bulbs in paper sacks rather than plastic, which will hold moisture.

The best thing you can do for your tulip and hyacinth (and other bulbs) is to add a 1- to 2-inch layer of Pine Bark Mulch above the bulb planting area in order to keep the soil temperature even. This will give you your BEST RESULTS. Pine Bark Mulch is low in acid and, therefore, the best mulch to use with in your bulb garden area.

Should bulb tips appear on a warm day, be certain to give them extra water.

For longer tulip bloom, select varieties that are ‘early bloomers’ and mix them with ‘late spring bloomers’ of a similar color. This will give you a bloom time that will expand to 4 weeks in your spring garden. Tulips and hyacinths like at least 3-4 hours (and more) of light.  Daffodils require less light and grow well in areas with more shade.

Daffodils are great bulbs that will do well in Dallas gardens. Probably 99% of daffodils planted will continue to return for 3-4 years. Divide bulbs after the 3rd or 4th year. It is essential that daffodils get a dose of bone meal the 2nd year of growth. Daffodils can be planted from late September right on through until March. They will bloom in March, no matter what month they are planted, unless an unusual warm spell hits. Daffodils do well in shady areas.

Garden magazines will suggest Allium Globemaster for the garden (and it does better up North), but this variety does not do well here without a great deal of care and ‘babying.’ If you want a good Allium with little care, select the ‘Purple Sensation’ variety. It is a smaller variety, and a good performer. It likes full sun. Plant after November 1st. This plant will bloom in May, and it will return for several years.

Paperwhites take about 5-6 weeks to force into bloom indoors. Outdoors, paperwhites will bloom in 5-6 weeks’ time. Planted outside, they will bloom in the fall (if planted in the fall). The more mature the bulb, the faster they will grow in the garden. Paperwhites planted in October will take 6 weeks to bloom. Paperwhites planted in November will take 5 weeks to bloom; December, 4 weeks; January, 3 weeks. Put 1 to 2 inches of Pine Bark Mulch over paperwhites planted in the garden.

When selecting paperwhites for quick bloom, look for the emerging leaf tip. When planting a bowl of paperwhites, select those that all have an emerging green tip so they will bloom at the same time. [See Forcing Bulbs in Water Inside, below.]

After paperwhites bloom inside, cut off blooms, then plant outside. Paperwhites planted outside can take temperatures of 28°F. ground temperature. In the spring, paperwhite blooms will last longer than the King Alfred and Dutch Master bulbs. Yellow paperwhites will take up to 8 weeks to bloom.

Forcing Bulbs in Containers Indoors

Hyacinths forced in water containers take about 7 weeks to bloom. Paperwhites will take about 5-6 weeks. Place bulb in special bulb vase or container with loose pebbles that will allow bulb to be suspended above the water in the container. Keep water about ½” below bulb. Roots will ‘reach’ for the water.

Early season bloom forcing in indoor container [start no earlier than October 15th]: This applies to all hyacinths, all daffodils/narcissus, and only the Triumph tulips. Fill container with potting soil and place bulb a little above the soil. Water the soil to provide moisture. Place a paper bag over the pot (creating darkness) and refrigerate for 8 weeks. Check weekly to see if the bulbs need water while in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator; plant will take about 2-1/2 weeks to bloom.

Guidelines for Bulbs and Planting/Growing
Tulips and hyacinths need about 3-4 hours of light. The hyacinth hispanica can grow with slightly less light. Daffodils are excellent for shady places.

Recommended chilling temperature is 45-55°F. for approximately 45 – 60 days. If chilling the bulbs yourself, store them in paper bags in your vegetable crisper. Do not store with food and keep bulbs dry.
Mulch bulbs with pink bark mulch, which is low in acid. Apply about 2 inches of mulch over planting beds to keep the temperature even. Bulbs will them mature at a similar time. Temperature variations in the soil (without mulch) will cause erratic maturity and blooming of bulbs.

When planting containers, don’t put more than 2 layers of bulbs. Bulbs in containers need more water, they can be over crowded. Freezing will break bulbs that are planted too close to the outside of a container in winter. Cover pots on freezing cold nights with frost cloth to protect them.

Other Bulbs – General Information

Ranunculus and anemones – plant in January. If you plant them too early, they won’t bloom.

Anemones like to be in the sun. Before planting the bulbs, soak them in water for 30 to 60 minutes until they swell up. Anemones will bloom in May. They make good cut flowers.

Allium Globemaster does not do well in Dallas soils. [Magazines mention them.] If attempting them, they should be in a mixture with peat, put in shade, and baby them.

Purple Sensation Allium is best suited to the Dallas soils and likes full sun. Plant after November 1st. This allium will bloom in May and return for many years.

Lycoris can be planted August through November. Red lycoris might take 2 years before they bloom. Yellow lycoris might take about 3 years before blooms appear. On both varieties, foliage will appear in June/July to produce energy for the plant. The pink lycoris might bloom the first year.

Leucojum Aestivum Gravetye Giant is a white bell-shaped bloom that does well in shade or sun and blooms in late February or March. Plant in groups of 5.

Arum Italicum loves the sun. This red berry-bundled-type flower holds great color in its foliage – better than caladiums in summer. The blooms appear in May; foliage remains all summer. Plant returns each year. Grows to about 12 inches.

Potted amaryllis take about 5-6 weeks to bloom.
After amaryllis blooms, cut off the flower and stop watering. When the foliage turns yellow, take out of the pot, put in burlap and put in the garage. In October, remove dead foliage, plant in container with soil, and 6-7 weeks later it will bloom.

OR After blooming (to plant in garden), continue to water in the container. In February, take out of pot, cut foliage down, plant in the garden. The amaryllis will bloom in the fall. [Note:  African Amaryllis do not do well outside here.]