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Planting Guides

Our comprehensive planting & growing guide available for free.
Garden Guide

Garden Guide

Download our comprehensive Garden Guide PDF for offline reading.

What To Do When Your Plants Arrive

We are often asked questions about the proper storage of the plant material we offer. In response, we offer you these guidelines.

Bulbs for Spring Planting

Plant the bulbs as soon as you receive your shipment. If you cannot plant the bulbs immediately, remove the bulbs from plastic bags and put them on a tray in a cool, dark, dry, well-ventilated place until you have a chance to plant them. Do not let the bulbs freeze. Plant outdoors when the conditions are right for your zone.

Bulbs for Fall Planting

Plant the bulbs as soon as possible after you receive them. If you cannot plant them right away, open the cartons. If the bulbs are in plastic bags, remove them from the plastic. Place them on a tray in a cool, dark dry, well-ventilated area until you can plant them. Do not store them at temperatures below 39°F. Generally all bulbs planted during the fall are hardy and do not need any special protection unless specified in this planting guide.

Perennial Roots

Dormant Bare Roots: We usually ship perennials to you in their dormant state, that is: bare roots, usually without leaves, in bags with loose peat moss. They may have some shoots beginning to grow. It is very important to plant these dormant perennials as soon as possible after you receive them. If it is absolutely necessary to store them for a short time before planting them, open the cartons and any plastic that is around the roots. If the roots appear dry, soak them for a few hours in warm water. Thereafter store in slightly moist peat moss in a very cold but not freezing location until you can plant. They can also be placed in pots of soil if planting will be delayed for more than 2 weeks.

Non-dormant in Pots: Some perennials will be shipped to you from our greenhouses. They will be in pots and may have actively growing green leaves. These pots should be immersed in water upon arrival to thoroughly soak the root ball. These non-dormant plants must be hardened off before planting outside. Keep in a cool bright room, and place outside on mild days and gradually leave outside when it is cooler. After a week or so or when nighttime temperatures are above freezing, plant outside. If a severe dip in temperature is expected, you may want to place straw or an old blanket over the green leaves to protect them from severe damage. Frost or cold will not permanently hurt the plant, but it may damage the new leaves and set growth back.

Storage of Summer Flowering Bulbs

To store summer flowering bulbs, dig the bulbs when the foliage has withered or turned brown by a light frost. Air dry in a well-ventilated area for a week. Then remove all soil from the bulbs. Bulbs must be dried before storing or they will rot. Dust the bulbs with a fungicide and store in dry peat moss or wood shavings in a brown paper bag, open crate, netted bag or even old pantyhose. Store at 50-55°F in a dry location until time to replant.

Bulbs Dos and Don'ts:

Always plant bulbs in borders or beds with good drainage. Planting bulbs in well-drained soil is vital and the most important instruction we can give you. Our guarantee does not cover losses from planting in poorly drained soil.

Do Not use strong commercial fertilizer or fresh manure when planting.

Always cut as little foliage as possible when cutting flowers from your bulbous plants. The leaves and foliage are essential for storing food for next year.

Do Not let a Tulip flower go to seed. Cut flowers as they fade and remove any seed pods that form. Leave the foliage to keep the bulb strong.

Always let the foliage die back on its own in the garden before trimming it back or digging up the bulbs. Do not trim back healthy green foliage or the bulb will not perform well next year.

Never dry bulbs in the sun, always in the shade in a well-ventilated area.

Always store bulbs in a dry, well-ventilated area to prevent mold or mildew. Do not store them in an air-tight container.

Do Not grow tulip bulbs year after year in the same place. Sooner or later they may be attacked with a fungus disease called fire blight, which affects both foliage and flowers. Either change the soil or the location; follow the principle of crop rotation.

Always label the bulbs as you plant them. Use labels that are big enough so that 2-3" of the label is below soil level. Smaller bulbs can get heaved out of the soil during winter freezing and thawing. Labeling prevents you from accidentally digging up bulbs out of season. Do not rely on your memory alone. Labeling is much safer.

Have another question? Return to the Customer Service Help page or send an e-mail directly to Customer Service

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