The earlier you order your bulbs for planting in the fall, the earlier you will receive them and be assured that you will get everything that you want. As the season progresses, varieties become difficult or impossible to obtain in some cases owing to demand or popularity.
I order large quantities of huge daffodils directly from the grower and cannot reorder these if I want more, but have to turn to the regular wholesale channels which offer lesser sized daffodils although they may be the largest obtainable in nurseries or by catalog. Many retail catalogs offer DN2 daffodils which are “Double Nosed #2”. This means they will have two stems emerging but they are second sized. Most Holland grown daffodils are single bulbs and are sold as DN1 because the cost of shipping is so high.
My Dutch Master Daffodil bulbs
Popular tulips sell out rather quickly in normal years, but remain available until after September for most varieties. I order a modest number of tulips and refrigerate them in my walk in refrigerator until time to plant, if customers so wish.
Peonies are usually available throughout the fall and into the winter. Small bulbs are usually sold out by November although I can still re-order some of these.
Tulips, daffodils, and other flowering bulbs cover different areas owing to the size of the bulb and the square footage of the planting area. Of course, if you prefer denser effects you can adjust the numbers.
In general you will want to plant the following bulbs in these quantities:
Tulips: 2″ apart or 9 tulips per square foot
Daffodils: 7 in a clump or 7 regular daffodils per square foot
Smaller Daffodils: 12 in a clump or 12 small daffodils per square foot
Freesias: 2″ apart or 16 freesias per square foot
Anemones: 2″ apart or 16 anemones per square foot
Peonies: 12″ apart or 1 peony per square foot
Giant Squill: 18″ apart or about 4 per every 3 square feet
The quantities differ when they are to planted in pots. The bulbs should be planted almost touching which will double or triple the number per square foot depending on the desired effect. You can also layer bulbs with larger bulbs like tulips and daffodils planted deeper and smaller bulbs planted on top of them so that their roots are not competing.
I planted heirloom freesias which were tiny with 100 to a pot and effect was gorgeous. Underneath were planted tall narcissus which were blooming at the same time.
Freesia – 25 per color or variety
Planting these heirloom freesias tightly together, gives a dense show. These antique freesias spread by dividing and also by seed and mine are developing beautiful seed pods right now! I will harvest the freesias and keep them in a cool, dark place until I replant them next fall in fresh potting soil as they have now spent two years in the same pot and will be very crowded as they will have grown larger. Daffodils can be replanted, but the tulips will not rebloom as well, as they divide after bloom into several smaller bulbs.
Bulbs are dormant when they have died back to nothing more than the brown, dried, fat root. That root has all of the nutrition that it will need for the next year’s successful bloom. It is important to keep bulbs cool and in dark, dry conditions until they are planted, whether they have been dug out of the ground after dying back or are fresh and new from the grower or supplier.
Some bulbs need to be chilled before planting in warm weather climates, like most of California and in the southern states. Tulips need chilling for about 6-8 weeks or longer if that is most convenient. I have planted tulips bulbs that have been left over and with almost 14 weeks of refrigeration and they have bloomed nicely. On one occasion, I planted some Darwin Hybrid tulips on April 1 after 22 weeks of chlling and they bloomed 2 weeks later with no roots!
Freesia, hyacinth, saffron crocus, and lilies need refrigeration if they are not planted after receiving them to keep them from beginning to keep the roots from beginning to grow. Daffodils do not need chilling but they do need to be kept in dark, dry storage as in a garage until time to plant. Other bulbs like giant scilla, lycoris, ranunculous, anamones and other warm weather bulbs and corms just need cool, dry, dark conditions.