Monday, May 11, 2009

How do I grow bulbs in Zone 9 Houston, TX?

I have the following bulbs:



Narcissus paperwhites


It is October. They are to be planted between October and December. Do I go out and plant them or do I put them in my fridge until December? I am so confused. Should I supplement the soil with something?

How do I grow bulbs in Zone 9 Houston, TX?
In Houston, it's still very warm, as you know. Your bulbs require about 14 weeks of cold temperatures (although not freezing) to bloom successfully in the spring. That being the case, it's best to chill your bulbs in the fridge until the ground is cold for the winter. I've known people who simply kept them in the fridge until late January or early February. At that point, you can put them in the ground and you should be ok.

You probably won't need to put any fertilizers in the ground until next year, if the bulbs were healthy and good quality from a reputable supplier.
Reply:I might be wrong, but I believe Paperwhites are easy to grow in Houston without the fridge trick. Freesias are done in by the hot humid summers, not the lack of cold, I believe. They are from warm areas of the world, with hot DRY summers.

A caution: I have heard that one must be careful not to store bulbs near ripening fruits and vegetables in the fridge. I think it is the methane (?) gas the veggies put out that is harmful to the bulbs.

A suggestion: Give up on the northern bulbs and enjoy the great bulbs that grow in Houston that northerners would die for, like Rain Lilies (Zephranthes) Crinums, Spider Lilies (Hymenocallis), St Joseph's Lilies, Aztec Lilies, Lilies of the Nile (Agapanthus), Hurricane Lilies (Lycoris), and Tuberoses. Many are hard to find, and available mostly from neighbors and friends across-the-fence, but that is part of the fun.
Reply:Your bulbs need to be chilled in the refrigerator for 8 weeks at least. A good rule to go by in houston is to put them in around Halloween and take them out of the fridge and plant on New Year's day. You can use bone meal to put into the hole when you plant.

The Daffodils and paperwhites will probably naturalize because I have seen them growing in Houston before but the Tulips will not. You will have to treat these as annuals and next year plant a whole new bunch of bulbs. I am not sure about freesia, though.

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