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Monday, June 6, 2011

Some Fall Bulbs Will Need Extra Chilling

Q. Could offer any advice on what to do to keep my spring bulbs (tulips and hyacinths) healthy so that they bloom again next year?  I bought them this past fall and kept them in the refrigerator for six weeks or so, and then planted them.  They came up and bloomed beautifully.  Should I dig them up when all of the foliage has died off of them and store them again in a cool place until next fall?  Will they survive if I leave them in the ground over our hot summer?

A. Both tulips and hyacinths are considered fall bulbs. Fall bulbs should be planted in late summer and fall. Besides tulips and hyacinths other fall ball does include crocus, narcissus, and ranunculus. October, November and December are the months to plant fall bulbs.

You must work the soil well with compost and some sort of phosphorus fertilizer such as bone meal. Plant the bulbs twice their diameter. If your soil is sandy then you can plant deeper than this. Make sure they are mulched and receive periodic Irrigations during the winter to keep them from drying out.

Remember that after the flower fades the bulb is making its flower bud for next year so try to keep the foliage green as long as you can. Don’t cut off the foliage. You can pick the flowers and use them for arrangements if you like or gifts. That will not affect next year’s bulbs but try not to remove the foliage as much as possible.

Anemones and ranunculus can be planted as early as October. Tulips, hyacinths and daffodils should spend six weeks in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator and planted in late November or December after soils have cooled. This pre chilling simulates winter temperatures and blooms will be bigger and brighter.

Don’t forget to try gladiolas. They do well here. Grape Hyacinth or muscari performs year after year with very little care. They might last as long as five years. Go ahead and scatter them under shrubs and trees alike. They are nice for arrangements and last for days.


  1. Bob, so what about the question about digging up the bulbs when all the foliage has died? Do you dig all the bulbs out and put it in the fridge or do you leave it there until new growth comes out again next year? Thanks!

  2. I went back and reread it and I guess I did not give enough information. The climate in Las Vegas is normally cold enough to provide enough chilling hours for daffodils. In unusually warm winters then you may see a reduction in the number of flowers. When you are planting new bulbs in the fall make sure that they have received pre-chilling treatment or they may not bloom in the spring. As a safety precaution I would put daffodil bulbs in the refrigerator for six weeks before planting them in the fall. The normal time of planting would be around November or now. They prefer to be planted in a cool soil.