How To Care For Bulbs & Perennials If You Can’t Plant Right Away

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Although we ship according to ground temperatures and won’t send your spring order until it’s time to plant in your area, things happen, including (but not limited to) random snowstorms, impromptu vacations, rain and lack of motivation at the moment. And even though we want you to get your plants and bulbs in the ground as soon as possible, we know that’s not always the case. But have no fear – we’re here to help with instructions on how to care for your bulbs and perennials to keep them healthy before you can get them in the ground.

Even if you know you won’t be able to plant your bulbs and perennials for a few days, remember to take them out of the box and give them room to breathe. Storing them in the box could result in too much moisture and rot.

Storing Bulbs Before Planting In Spring

One of the basic rules of bulbs storage is to keep them dry and cool, which helps prevent bulbs from sprouting before you plant. How cold? Make sure your bulbs don’t freeze – This means if you’re still having freezing nights in your area, you won’t want to store them in an unheated garage or shed.

To prevent bulbs from getting too hot, make sure to keep them away from the furnace, out of bright sunlight, not on top of the refrigerator or any other place that can get hot in your home. Ideal storage places in the home include a basement, closet or utility room that stays cool but above freezing.

Lilies must be stored below 45 degrees, or they will probably sprout before planting. If they do, treat the sprouts gingerly. If you break them off, your bulbs won’t bloom.

Dahlias and Gladiolus can stand a bit higher temperatures. They should be stored anywhere between 40 and about 62 degrees; the lower the better.

Canna Lilies like to be stored around 50 degrees, and should never dry out.

Calla Lilies and Elephant Ears like it warmer, between 60 and 70 degrees.

If your bulbs sprout before you get the chance to plant, make sure to be very gentle as to not break or damage it. If your bulbs sprout before you get the chance to plant, make sure to be very gentle as to not break or damage it.

The goal is to keep the bulbs from sprouting before putting them in the ground. However, if your bulbs do sprout, it’s not the end of the world. Simply be extra gentle with the sprouted bulbs, making sure not to damage or break off the sprout. That sprout is likely the bulb’s only chance at growth and producing a flower.

As soon as you’re able to plant, bring the bulbs outside and put them in the ground according to the growing instructions.

Storing Perennials Before Planting In Spring

As soon as you receive your perennials, open the box immediately, protect the plants from extreme cold, and water each potted plant. Some of your potted plants may have new green growth, some may not. If you see no leaves, don't worry; this is normal. The roots in the pot are healthy and ready to grow in your garden.

Like bulbs, perennials should be stored in an area in the home that is cool, but not freezing, until you can put them in the ground. Keep your perennials where they get some sun through a window, and keep potted plants moist, not soggy. Leave bareroot plants in their packaging, but if they are dry, moisten.

As soon as you’re able to plant, bring the perennials outside and put them in the ground according to the growing instructions.

How Our Plants And Bulbs Are Shipped

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We ship our plants and bulbs in different forms, depending upon the variety and the time of year. The goal is to ship the plants in a form that minimizes transplant shock, so they can adapt quickly to their new home in your garden. The plants and bulbs you receive may range from being fully leafed out and actively growing, to being in a dormant (resting) state, showing few if any signs of life. However, you can be assured that all our varieties are ready to spring to life once they're planted. See details about how each of our plants and bulbs are shipped, with photos, in our article.

Your bulbs and perennials have been dormant all winter long, so it shouldn’t be an issue to keep them that way for a few more days. Having said that, try to plant as soon as you can and call us at (877) 309-7333 if you ever need any advice or planting guidance– our gardening experts are happy to help.

6 thoughts on “How To Care For Bulbs & Perennials If You Can’t Plant Right Away”

  • Luana

    My mother just told me about your website last night via email. I live in the very north part of Alabama. I belive I am zone 7. I would like to plant some bulbs in the fall, but do not know when in the fall to plant them. I want Iris, Daffodils, Tulips, and those bottle brush looking Lilies that smell so wonderful. Would you recommend these for my area? My ground is hard red clay with bits of rock in it and it is a real pain to dig holes. I have just moved into my house in December and I have planted 10 young trees around and some roses, hydrangeas, crepe myrtles, and lots of potted flowers on my back porch. Please advise.

    Thank you very much!

    Reply
    • Jenny

      Hi Luana,
      Glad you found us! We've actually just posted our 2016 fall bulb selection, so your timing is perfect. Here's the link:
      http://www.americanmeadows.com/flower-bulbs/fall-flower-bulbs
      One of our site's nicest features is the set of filters on the left sidebar. After choosing a category (such as sun-loving bulbs, or bulbs that attract butterflies) you can enter your zip code to only be shown plants that will succeed in your area. Next, you can narrow your search even further by checking boxes for your soil type, available light, and your color preferences. Hope this helps! Happy Gardening - Jenny

      Reply
  • bonnie

    I live in hot Bakersfield c.a. I dug up my naked lilys and put them in pots. The ones I put back in the dirt did not come up. The other one bloomed and the other ones in pots nothing. What went wrong?? bonnie. They have divided like crazy. I have good soil and have been giving them food.

    Reply
    • Jenny

      Hi Bonnie - thanks for the question. Sometimes flowers can go into dormancy when stressed (when transplanted at the wrong time or due to other variables). Luckily, with bulbs, there is a very easy rule of thumb to follow. If the bulb is firm, it is alive and will grow. If the bulb is mushy or dry enough to collapse in your hand without force, then it's no good. If you're nervous, your best bet is to dig down and feel the bulb! Hope this helps and Happy Gardening - Jenny

      Reply
  • Diana Anderson

    I live in NY... I bought some clearance perennials, but we have had 30° weather at night, I believe to late to plant....how can I save plants for the spring? Some are sedums and some echinacea. Thank-you

    Reply
    • Jenny

      Hi Diana, sounds like things got chilly pretty quick! Our advice is to put these plants in the ground asap, as this will be your best shot at getting them to survive until spring. While the air is cold, you're likely to see dieback in any above-ground growth; however, the warm soil below will be very inviting to the roots, allowing your plants to refocus their energy in that direction. Another thought that can help your plants to make a less shocking transition, is to create little 'greenhouses' over each plant, bu cutting the bottoms off of gallon-sized milk jugs and setting them over your plants. If you choose to do so, leave the tops open as well, so that you have good air flow. Hope this helps and Happy Gardening! - Jenny

      Reply
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