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Tulip bulbs: It’s not too late to plant

I bought tulip bulbs in the fall but didn’t have time to plant them. Is it too late to put them in the ground now?

Tulips

Tulip bulbs planted now will bloom next spring.

Good news: Unless the ground is frozen and you can’t dig, it’s not too late. Tulip bulbs apparently prefer cooler planting conditions. But don’t wait much longer; otherwise, blooming will be delayed. Try to get the bulbs in the ground before the end of December.

Here are general planting guidelines from the National Gardening Association:

Prepare a well-drained bed in full sun. Plant tulip bulbs – pointed end up – about six inches deep – or a couple of inches deeper if voles are a problem in your garden. Space bulbs about 5 inches apart, and apply a granular bulb fertilizer. Firm the soil and water thoroughly.

National Gardening Association suggests planting five bulbs per square foot for a nice display. When you plant a grouping, be care to plant all the bulbs at the same depth to ensure they will all bloom at the same time.

You can also plant tulip bulbs in pots. Fine Gardening magazine suggests this technique: For the best visual impact, select a container with an outside diameter of at least 18 inches that is at least 15 inches tall. Fill the container about two-thirds with lightweight potting mix, and place the bulbs (pointed end up) close together in a tight circular pattern. Cover them with soil, leaving about an inch of space at the top.

In my yard, squirrels try to find hidden treasure by digging in unprotected containers, so I cover the soil with poultry wire cut to fit the pot. Fine Gardening magazine suggests a wire grid such as peony support. Cover the wire with a thin layer of soil; when the bulbs begin to sprout, they will grow through the open grid.

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