I have bulbs that I want to plant. When will it be safe to plant them?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Janis in Massachusetts: The answer to your question depends on the kind of bulbs you have. There are some that are hardy and others that are tender. All have their own planting time and specifics in terms of planting depth and location. The bulbs that are sold in garden centers this time of year are best planted after the frost-free date for your area passes. Bulbs that bloom in the spring like crocus, narcissus, and tulips should be planted in the fall. The horticulture agent or Master Gardeners at the Barnstable County Cooperative Extension Service will be able to give you local advice for planting your bulbs. You can visit their Web site at www.capecodextension.org. As a Kentucky gardener our average frost-free date is May 10, but you are much farther north than we are so I would suspect that your average frost-fee date is closer to the end of May. Of course, this can vary from year to year as Mother Nature is not always predictable, so watch the forecast and you may be able to put them out sooner. A general rule when planting bulbs is to plant them twice as deep as the diameter of the actual bulb. They will benefit from an application of Bulb-Tone or any like product at planting time and once per year if they are hardy bulbs. Some bulbs will naturalize so keep this in mind when choosing a space in the garden. Most prefer to grow in full to part sun. Some tender bulbs like elephant ears and cannas are worth digging up and over-wintering. This way you can enjoy them during the growing season without having to purchase new bulbs each spring.