Buy bulbs now before it’s too late

Buy bulbs now. Tulips in terra cotta pot. 'Temple's Favourite', 'Rococo' and 'Orange Princess'
Tulips in terra cotta pot: ‘Temple’s Favourite’, ‘Rococo’ and ‘Orange Princess’ with dark blue pansies planted in early spring.

Consider this your bulb-buying reminder, nay warning. Now is the time to buy bulbs to plant for fall. If you want tulips, daffodils, purple hyacinths, blue chionodoxa, fritillaria in cream, orange, yellow or even dusky purple, you need to order now.

Otherwise, you’ll be sad in November when you sit down to the computer to order bulbs, and see “sold out” on every website.

Order now my friends.

Check out some of my bulb archives for ideas. I’m a bulb nut, and it shows.

Daffodils and tulips in the back garden. They are as colorful as Easter eggs.
Daffodils and tulips in the back garden. They are as colorful as Easter eggs.

Personally, I’m the mix and match sort. I love sprinkling these beauties throughout the garden and just letting “nature” create a tapestry. At least, I pretend Nature does, and the truth is, over time, some bulbs like daffodils will return in abundance, while others like hybrid tulips usually don’t. Before long, with my help every year, the tapestry of color changes.

Daffodil bulbs in the bottom of the pot
Daffodil bulbs in the bottom of terracotta pot

You can also plant bulbs in pots. I did this last year because I didn’t want to dig holes for tulips. Here’s what I discovered. It worked, but I found that the tulips, unless placed in partial shade, bloomed out too quickly in a spring heat wave. I may not do that this year unless I find tulips on sale. I do love a good bulb sale.

The front garden in 2010.
The front garden in 2010.

Instead, I think I’ll go for a color palette of reds and purples in the front garden bed. Added to this will be yellow narcissus that return each year. It will unfold however it likes. I may also still put pots in the front garden. That remains to be seen.

Bulbs in the garage garden in 2013.
Bulbs in the garage garden in 2013.

As for the garage border, I went the easy route there and just chose the Scheepers hybrid tulip mixture. The mix of sherbet hues made my heart flutter. These tulips are all offspring of Mrs. John T. Scheepers, one of the finest single late tulips around if you like yellow. Yellow happens to be my daughter, Megan’s, favorite color.

Late tulips seem to perform best in my Oklahoma garden. The collection includes: ‘Avignon,’ ‘Camargue,’ ‘Dordogne,’ ‘La Courtine,’ ‘Renown’ and ‘Roi du Midi.’ There’s no shame in letting the seller mix your tulip colors for you. This combo should look great with white ‘Thalia’ and the other narcissus growing in this bed. There are also lots of other later bulbs that will bloom after the flush of tulips. I can hardly wait. Longfield Gardens is sending me Tulipa ‘Suncatcher’ which is supposed to change color as it ages, and Muscari Armeniacum to try.

Forcing hyacinths on glass vases.
Forcing hyacinths on glass vases.

Also, don’t forget about forcing bulbs. I’ve written extensively about forcing bulbs indoors, and I think it’s one of the best ways to have a little spring before spring even thinks about showing its sweet face. I bought two varieties of Narcissus tazetta, ‘Erlicheer’ and ‘Early Pearl‘ from Old House Gardens to force, along with the hyacinth forcing and exhibition collection from John T. Scheepers. I had a tremendous amount of fun forcing hyacinths on glass vases last year, and I can’t wait to use my bulb vases for paperwhites that don’t stink. I love ‘Nir’ tazettas too. They smell heavenly.

Hippeastrum 'La Paz', one of the more unique varieties of amaryllis.
Hippeastrum ‘La Paz’, one of the more unique varieties of amaryllis.

One more thing–if you want some amaryllis (Hippeastrum) that are outside the box at your local nursery, and in colors other than red, it’s time to order those too. Brent & Becky’s Bulbs have a large selection of amaryllis. I ordered several double white amaryllis this year because I asked Siri to make a note last December and remind me in August. I was inspired by Pinterest boards with white amaryllis surrounded by green moss and other plants. I can see these with creeping sedums. They will be a bright ray of sunshine in my dark, wood living room this winter. I can’t afford skylights in there yet, but I can definitely buy a few bulbs. Here is my Bulb Forcing Pinterest board for your own ideas. I also have one called Bulb-mania. I can’t fathom why.

All of these will arrive at their appropriate planting times. Definitely tell the seller if you’re planning to force some of them though. They will ship these earlier so that you can refrigerate them. By ordering early, you take the guesswork and panic out of the equation. Next spring, you’ll have your own pictures of blooming loveliness. Buy bulbs now.

31 Replies to “Buy bulbs now before it’s too late”

  1. Last year I did leave it too late and the ground froze before I got all the bulbs in. A sale is not a bargain if you lose all you bought. This year I will be smarter! I want to ask about the bulbs in pots. Mine all rotted come spring. What should I do differently this fall?

  2. An excellent reminder. Some years I don’t plant new bulbs and rely on the many already in the garden but this year I placed a large bulb order and look forward to squeezing them in in October. The Darwin hybrid tulips are reliably perennial for me. I’ve had some last for ten years so far. The others are a bit iffy as far as their return but it’s fun having them anyway. How wonderful it is to see the bulbs bloom in spring and remember planting them in the autumn, an act of faith that spring will come.

  3. Pleased to see you made it into the Washington Post Sunday Magazine last week in the article on Washington’s fave pastimes (gardening #1). It gave the BH&G garden blog list for 2014… and there you were! Yay!

  4. How do you know what bulbs are okay for your zone? I was looking at the heirloom bulbs at Baker Creek, but don’t know what to buy…

    1. Amber, most bulbs do well here. I looked Baker Creek, and it appears they sell daffodils, tulips and hyacinths. The only problem might occur if hyacinths don’t get enough cold period. The amaryllis are to be grown indoors. I hope that helps.

          1. Now I have to decide what I want to buy…and if I want to buy a bunch or wait a year to see what is already here since I just bought the house…

        1. Hi Amber, I linked to several of them within the post, but here are several of my favorites. Van Engelen if you’re going to buy a lot of bulbs. They have a minimum. John T. Scheepers is their retail outlet. Old House Gardens is my favorite for older bulbs. They are a super company with excellent customer service. Brent & Becky’s Bulbs are also wonderful. Nice people, cool new daffodils around every turn and great customer service. I’ve never bought bulbs from Baker Creek although I love their seeds. I’ve also gotten good bulbs from Longfield Gardens. ColorBlends is also great. Those are my favorites, not necessarily in that order. I buy different things from different companies. HTH~~Dee

  5. Guess you’re partial to purple hyancinths ss you duly noted only that color. Best value out there is the Daffodil 100 blend from Colorblends with 85 guaranteed to be different. I placed 100 amongst my daylily collection last fall and am adding another this fall. You have to check it out and try it, my dear Dee. One of my funnest gardening experiences ever as I eagerly awaited the end result!

    1. No, actually my favorite hyacinth is the double creamy chestnut. The group I bought have lots of different colors although not the double. It doesn’t force as well. I also love creamy ‘Haarlem.’ Sounds like a fun time with the daffodils Patrick. Cheers.

  6. Thanks for the tip on the tulip bulbs in pots. It sounds easy but I can see how our quirky weather in the spring could confuse the little darlings!

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