The next few weeks are an important time for planting tulips, hyacinths and other bulbs that have been previously stored in your refrigerator.
Tulips and hyacinths are refrigerated because Louisiana winters aren’t cold long enough to allow them to bloom properly without additional chilling. These bulbs should be refrigerated at least six to eight weeks prior to planting, which means you need to have had tulip and hyacinth bulbs in the refrigerator since mid- to late November or before.
It’s too late to go out and purchase tulip and hyacinth bulbs from area nurseries and start refrigerating them now. Although businesses often put these bulbs on sale at reduced prices in late December and January, if the bulbs have not been previously refrigerated, there’s little chance they will bloom properly.
Remember that tulips and hyacinths, like most spring bulbs, look better when planted in masses or groups rather than in single rows. Plantings are also generally more effective and dramatic when one or just a few colors are used.
Plant tulip and hyacinth bulbs in sunny to partly shaded areas that have good drainage. The bulbs should be planted into well-prepared beds that have been generously amended with organic matter and a light application of general-purpose fertilizer. Here in Louisiana we generally do not plant spring-flowering bulbs as deeply as is recommended for areas farther north. Tulips and hyacinths are planted about 5 inches deep and spaced about 3 or 4 inches apart.
Planting spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips and hyacinths in containers is also a wonderful way to grow them. When grown in containers, they can be moved inside when they come into bloom. As delightful as they are in the landscape, spring bulbs are especially enjoyable indoors.
As the hectic pace of the holidays slows, make sure you take some time to plant your bulbs. If you neglect to plant them for bloom this spring, you cannot hold them until next December.