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Planting Bulbs in New York — Everything You Need to Know

Planting Bulbs in New York — Everything You Need to Know

Bulbs are round, fleshy, underground buds that carry plant life. Some annual plants’ foliage above the soil dies off in the winter. They preserve themselves in these underground storage bodies until the spring. 

Some of the most famous annual flowering plants are grown by planting dormant bulbs in the ground. If you’re not aware of what a bulb looks like, they look just like dried turnips or onions. In fact, onions are actually bulbs. 

Living in New York, growing beautiful flowers from bulbs is a pretty effortless task compared to the massive reward of beautiful flowers you’re going to get in the spring.


When to Plant Bulbs in New York? 

The best time to plant bulbs in New York depends on the bulbs’ blooming season and your USDA zone. Spring bloomers like Daffodils or Tulips should be planted in the fall when the temperatures start falling. Summer bloomers should be planted in spring to avoid the dangers of frost damage.


Best Bulbs to Plant in New York

The state of New York comprises USDA zones 3 to 7. The vast climatic difference between the upper and lower parts of the state means variation in the flowering plant that can be grown across all the constituent USDA zones. 

But not to make it too complicated, there are some fantastic flowering species that can be successfully grown and their blooms enjoyed all across the state. 

Tulips, Snowdrops, Crocus, Muscari, and Hyacinth are the best flowering species to be planted as bulbs in NY. 

Moreover, if you have a deer problem in NY, which is a common thing across various NY regions, you are recommended to plant Daffodils and Hyacinth along with your Tulips. 

Daffodils and Hyacinths are both deer-resistant flowering plants and will protect your Tulips. Moreover, planting the bulbs together also ensures your Tulips bloom for longer


Best Time to Plant Spring-Flowering Bulbs in New York

Popular annuals such as Daffodils, Irises, Tulips, Crocus, Allium, and Hyacinth are all spring-blooming species. The best time to plant bulbs of these species is in the fall and before the first frost date in your particular area. 

The trick to plant spring-blooming bulbs is to get them in the ground while the soil is still soft and can be tilled. However, we do not want it to be warm because warmer soil temperatures make the bulbs prone to rotting. 

In general, the September to October fall window is the recommended time to plant bulbs in NY. But you will have to adjust the time according to the weather in your region. 

Although you can still plant them if it’s too late in the fall, planting them too early is not recommended at all. 

This is not only because the bulbs are susceptible to rot but also that the warmer soil temperatures in late August to mid-September may stimulate the bulbs to grow and try to flower. 

While they might be able to grow leaves, the bulbs will not bloom when you want. Just like Peonies should be planted in late fall, spring-blooming species need a winter resting period to fulfill their chill hours and bloom vigorously at the right time in the spring. 


Planting Spring-Flowering Bulbs in Winter

Planting spring-blooming bulbs are not recommended, but you can still move them into the ground if you are late and winter has already come. 

New Yorkers usually consider the first frost or first winter storm as the end of their gardening season for the year. While this may be true for other plants, you can still be out working in the garden if you’ve got to plant bulbs. 

Spring-blooming bulbs can be planted in the ground as late as the ground doesn’t freeze in the winter. 

Moreover, winter bulb planting is an especially recommended practice for gardeners who want their gardens to be filled with color late into the growing season, much later than the first boom of spring blooms. 


Best Time to Plant Summer-Flowering Bulbs in New York

Bulbs that bloom in the summer, for instance, Cannas, Alliums, and Agapanthus are to be planted in the ground in spring. This is when the soil is already soft and is starting to warm up. 

Get these bulbs in the ground just after the last frost date in your region. As the temperatures gradually start to rise, the bulbs will have enough time to establish themselves. 

The optimum soil temperature for summer-blooming bulbs is 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius). So plant when the soil is about to reach this temperature in your NY area. 

Moreover, you should try to plant the bulbs as soon as possible after buying them. This doesn’t mean you should plant them early if you’ve bought them earlier. 

Plan your purchases according to the best time to plant summer bulbs in NY. Removing them from the clean storage and transitioning in between fluctuating temperatures may activate the bulbs unnecessarily. 


Frequently Asked Questions about Planting Bulbs in New York


Can I artificially stratify bulbs to plant them in late spring in New York?

Increase the chances of your bulbs blooming early and more vigorously by putting them in a plastic bag and refrigerating them until they start sprouting. However, the artificial stratification process can also take 3 months. You can plant these bulbs in late spring.


Can I plant bulbs in New York even after it has started to snow?

Snow is no enemy to bulb plantations. You can just rake away the snow and dig the soil to the desired depth to get your bulbs in the ground at the right time. Note that the soil is only frozen at the surface, and it is still soft and moist underneath. 


How do I store bulbs?

If you’ve bought bulbs quite early and don’t know how to store them until the time is right to plant them, keep them in a dry and cool place to prevent them from rotting. However, if they start drying up, immerse them in clean water for an hour to rejuvenate them before storing them again.