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Great Lakes

When to Plant Flower Bulbs: Great Lakes

Optimum Planting Time: September 15th — November 15th
USDA Hardiness Zones: 5, 6, 7

Region "E" — Great Lakes

You have the benefit of a climate moderated by the Great Lakes. However, you can experience fairly extreme climate changes and often heavy winds. Choosing shorter, sturdier cultivars that stand up better to the windy conditions may be appropriate, depending on local conditions. Later blooming cultivars may be less affected by late freezes but their flowers may not last as long if hot spells hit in late spring.

Plant bulbs in the fall, starting when nighttime temperatures stay between 40-50°F. But be sure to plant approximately six weeks before the ground freezes to allow sufficient time for rooting. Bulbs will root best in cool soil and once rooted undergo natural changes that keep them from freezing. Water your bulbs after planting to help them start the rooting process.

After planting, apply slow release "bulb food" fertilizer on the top of the ground to supply nutrients for the second year's bloom. (Fall bulbs are already fully charged with energy for peak flowering performance in their first spring bloom season.) Do not put the fertilizer in the hole with the bulb as this may burn the bulb's tender roots. PLEASE NOTE: Modern bone meal generally has little value as a bulb fertilizer and often draws rodents and dogs that dig up the bulbs looking for bones!

After the ground cools or freezes, cover your bulb beds with a lightweight mulch (pine needles, buckwheat hulls, straw or chopped up leaves) 2-4 inches thick to help keep down weeds and maintain a consistently cool soil temperature.

Special Note: Deer can be major problem with edible tulips and lilies. Cornell University trials of products, such as Deer Off, have had some success but must be applied at emergence and until bloom.

A Sampling of Flower Bulbs for Perennializing: (return for several years)
Most Narcissus (Daffodils)Dutchmaster
All Darwin Hybrid TulipsGrand Mix, Pink Impression, Red Oxford, and Golden Oxford
Allium 'Globe Master'
Frittillaria ImperialisRed Crown and Yellow Crown

A Sampling of Bulbs for Naturalizing: (return & multiply)
Most Narcissus (Daffodils)Tete a Tete, Ice Follies, The Poet's Daffodil, and Mount Hood
All Emperor TulipsRed and White
All Wild Tulips Lilac Wonder and Wildflower Mix

Other Fall-Planted Bulbs for Zones 5-7
Siberian Squill
Wood Hyacinth Pink
Wood Hyacinth Mix

Shop for Fall Bulbs