Planting Bulbs in Winter

My brother in Virginia was doing some garden remodeling and asked if he could send me some of the daffodil bulbs I had gifted him over the years.  In this way, the bulbs could visit “home” for a couple of years, and once his new flower beds were ready the bulbs could make the trip back to their new garden spot, maybe with me in tow.

The 70 pounds of bulbs included tete a tete (small) and King Alfred (big) yellow daffodils, and who knows what else mixed in. The bulbs did not look like bulbs that one buys in fall for planting. These had green shoots at one end and roots at the other, looking like they had been slipped right out of a garden bed in the middle of growing.  No time to waste getting these into the ground since the roots are delicate and need to get re-established.  If you find bulbs sprouted like this on sale, pick them up.  They will also nicely continue to grow if you can get them quickly in the ground.

Spring bulbs develop roots in fall and need exposure to cold temperatures from 12 to 16 weeks before blooming.  This chilling period kicks bulbs into spring growth.

The existing green tops will die off when cold weather moves in but they will appear again in spring, gathering energy in the bulbs once they sprout again.  Some may not bloom this spring but they should the second year after enough energy is stored.

To plant, I will add compost to the bottom of the planting holes so the bulb roots will have easy access to nutrients.  Once planted, they will also be watered well so they can absorb nearby food, then get covered in a good blanket of wood chip mulch and leaves so they are ready for chilling temperatures.

Charlotte Ekker Wiggins is a gardener, beekeeper, and sometimes cook.  For more, visit Published by Kaleidoscope Weekly with permission. Copyright, 2018, all rights reserved. This column may not be copied, published, reprinted, rewritten, or redistributed. Contact Charlotte at

When planting daffodil bulbs late in the season, add compost to the hole, water well, and mulch the spot to buy bulbs a little time to settle in. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

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