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

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We ship plants and bulbs by zone, when it's time to plant in your area. However, things happen, including (but not limited to) extreme weather, snowstorms, impromptu vacations, rain and drought, or busy schedules. While we recommend that to get your plants and bulbs in the ground as soon as possible, we know that’s not always possible. Have no fear – we’re here to help with instructions on how to care for your bulbs and perennials, so you can keep them healthy before you can get them in the ground.

First: remember to take bulbs and plants out of the box and give them room to breathe. Storing them in the box could result in too much moisture and rot. 

Storing Perennials Before Planting

  • As soon as you receive your perennials, open the box immediately. 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. You can check for a healthy white root system under the soil.
  • Like bulbs, perennials should be stored in a place where they are protected from extreme temperatures or sun 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 plant them in the ground or in containers, according to the growing instructions.

Storing Bulbs Before Planting

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.

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

As soon as you’re able to plant, bring the bulbs outsideplant them in the ground or in containers, according to the growing instructions.

How Our Plants Are Shipped

We ship our plants in different forms, depending upon the variety and the time of year, with the goal of shipping plants in a form that minimizes transplant shock so they can adapt quickly to their new home in your garden. The plants 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. 

Learn More: How Our Plants Are Shipped

Have planting questions? Visit The Tool Shed to find planting guides for seeds, bulbs, and plants. Or feel free to Contact Us – our gardening experts are happy to help.

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