Yes it is cold again. Yes, it is technically still winter, but for Wellfield’s Horticulture and Facilities department, spring has sprung. I am totally excited for our seasonal staff to return and to make new introductions-more on that to follow. These peeps are rock stars! They, along with the many volunteers we are privileged to garden with each year**, really are the heart and soul of everything beautiful in the gardens. Please help me welcome them back!
What could we be possibly doing on a cold snowy week in March? Planting bulbs of course…in containers. One way we get tulips and other spring bulbs to bloom in container arrangements is to plant them in nursery pots in the fall, healing them in with mulch.
Last fall, Wellfield staff asked students at Cleveland Elementary last fall to pot up a tulip/hyacinth mix for our spring display. Thanks to their efforts, we have 80 pots with 5 bulbs each ready to be moved in to the Gardens! Look for those blooms this spring in the Waterfall Garden.
For future reference, I would not recommend attempting to plant bulbs in your patio or porch containers that are left out in the cold. Ambient winter temperatures will turn your potted bulbs to mush by spring. However, pot up a few bulbs, then either place the whole pot in the ground or bury it in a nice thick pile of mulch. Many spring bulbs (those from temperature origins) require a chilling period (12 to 16 weeks below forty degrees for tulips) to kickstart the growing process. This protects them from coming up at the wrong time in nature of course.
There are plenty of ways to force bulbs to bloom out of season, if you are craving a bit of spring ahead of nature’s provision. We took a risk pulling the tulips so early from their winter mulch home, with night temperatures still dipping into the twenties, but we wanted to get them planted before they grew so much they became leggy. We waited to plant much later with leggy tulips in prior years, and the visual results were lacking. We shall see…and hopefully, so will you!
** In case you are interested, horticulture volunteers start back the week of April 2, 2018. If you are interested in volunteering anywhere at Wellfield, read more HERE, or contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Jodie at firstname.lastname@example.org.