Summer bulbs and roots ordered online: Tips for success

Or what to do when your online plant orders arrive!

Are you eagerly awaiting the arrival of warmer weather and dreaming of a colorful garden filled with vibrant blooms? Ordering summer bulbs online for spring planting is an excellent way to kickstart your garden transformation. In a previous post, I listed 12 steps in selecting and buying new plants from online catalogs. Building on that foundation, today I’ll share some essential tips to ensure a successful planting experience for summer-flowering bulbs and roots such as Siberian irises, daylilies and lilies, which are perfect companion plants in my peony garden.

Timing is key

It’s crucial to order your summer bulbs at the right time for spring planting. Most summer-flowering bulbs should be planted after the last frost date in your area, although a few perennials will support transplanting before as long as days and soil are warmer. Check your local frost dates and place your order accordingly to ensure your bulbs arrive in time for planting.

Inspect upon arrival

Upon receiving your order, verify the contents against the packing list and confirmation email of your order. Check also for any substitutions. If anything is amiss, contact the supplier immediately. Inspect the bulbs and roots for signs of damage or rot. Healthy bulbs should feel firm and plump; discard any that are mushy or show signs of mold. However, superficial mold is usually not a serious concern.

Storage tips

If you cannot plant the bulbs right away, keep the packaging open and ensure there is enough peat moss to maintain slight humidity or better keep your plants in a tray. Store them in a cool, dry place.

Delayed planting

For varieties like Siberian and Japanese irises, as well as daylilies, consider soaking them for a few hours (but not a full day) before planting. If planting is further delayed, potting the plants, especially irises and daylilies which might already show green stems, is a wise choice. Keep the potted plants watered if necessary while avoiding frost and direct sunlight for a few days.

Prepare your garden bed

Before planting, loosen the soil in your garden bed and enrich it with organic matter like compost or aged manure. Good drainage is essential to prevent waterlogged conditions that can lead to rot. Plant your bulbs at the right moment—for instance, dahlias should definitely go into the ground after the last hard frost. And do not forget your labels!

Planting depth and spacing

Follow the specific planting instructions that come with your bulbs. Generally, lilies should be planted at a depth three times their height and spaced several inches apart. Proper spacing is important when planting bulbs and plants to allow for adequate root growth and prevent overcrowding. Siberian and Japanese irises should be just half an inch below the surface.

Water and mulch

After planting, water the bulbs thoroughly to settle the soil around them and encourage root development. I usually indicate the location carefully in order not to walk on it. For plants that support it, apply a layer of mulch, such as shredded bark, to retain moisture and suppress weed growth.

Monitor and maintain

Be vigilant as your newly planted bulbs sprout; rabbits and other critters may find the tender shoots irresistible. Prevent this by applying granular chicken manure, known to deter them. Consistent watering, particularly in dry spells, is vital. Additionally, keep the area weed-free to prevent competition for nutrients. Do not worry if first-year lily bulb stay short the first two years. Some plants will not bloom the first summer. Again, be patient. These measures will help ensure your new plants and bulbs thrive.

By following these tips, you’re setting the stage for a successful planting experience after your plant online order arrives as well as a beautiful, blooming garden throughout the summer months. Happy gardening!

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