This time of year when many of us are preparing our gardens for fall and planting lots of bulbs for spring bloom I'm often asked the question, should I pre-chill my bulbs before planting them'
Well, first I think it helps to understand a little about the bulbs you're planting. If you're planting daffodils, they don't have to be pre-chilled. They can be planted anywhere in the country. In fact, I've planted daffodils as early as the first of September and as late as January and they always seem to do just fine.
On the other hand, tulips, hyacinths and crocus need a period of dormancy where they stay really cool, from forty to forty-five degrees for at least six to eight weeks. Now, if you live in a cold part of the country, planting these in the fall is really all they need. But if you live in a warmer part of the country, you'll probably want to pre-chill your bulbs and the easiest way to do this is just to put them in the refrigerator.
However, you never want to store bulbs near ripening fruit, like apples. You see these give off ethylene gas, which can literally destroy the tiny flower bud inside these bulbs. Now if you don't want to give up any refrigerator space, you can always buy bulbs that have been pre-chilled.
When you get around to planting go for bulbs that are fresh and healthy looking and very firm. And avoid those that have been frozen or dried and withered, they're not worth the effort.
From the garden, I'm Allen Smith.
P. Allen Smith Gardens
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