Acclimatizing Bulbs

March 27, 2018

Categories: Bulb Information, Growing Daffodils, Planting

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I had hoped to write an article for the ADS Journal regarding acclimatizing bulbs received from Down Under but never got around to it. Here is my tuppence worth. Sorry Matt, it has no scientific evidence but usually the theories according to Dave prove to be pretty accurate.
Last year many growers imported bulbs from Down Under and were disappointed that they lost many of them. My experience with importing bulbs from Up Over is that I lose very few, if any. I have consulted with Kirby and our practices are very similar. I do have a policy of replacing bulbs, from us, that do not survive. Please advise us of the cultivar name and we will arrange a replacement.

Here goes.
1) In my view cooling imported bulbs prior to planting is counter productive. Cooling causes the growth hormones to activate and softens the bulb making it prone to rot.

2) I plant the bulbs in a soilless potting mix. Harold uses Cacti and Succulent mix. We use a bark based Bulb Mix. I do not water the bulbs but keep them in a cool spot.

3) Water plus heat equals fungus equals lost bulbs. In humans sweat plus heat equals Athletes foot.

4) If planted directly into the garden plant about 8″ deep in a cool dry spot. Minimal water.

5) Bulbs can then be lifted and planted out at the same time as your normal lifting and planting time.

Summary: Keep the bulbs cool and dry.

On one occasion we had problems with our NZ postal system. The bulbs travelled from the US to Christchurch, were 5 mins from our house, back to the US then back to Christchurch. I finally received the bulbs in March. They were a little dehydrated but okay. I planted them in July with my normal crop. That is almost 12 months after the bulbs were lifted in the US. I didn’t lose any and they came up having turned around in a season. Dare I say it but I might suggest that it does little harm if the bulbs are kept dry in the garage right through the summer and then planted with your own crop. Miniatures excepted.

Follow the procedures that you have learnt or heard about if you wish. You often lose bulbs and are disappointed. I rarely lose bulbs and am chuffed with the outcome.

David Adams

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3 Responses to Acclimatizing Bulbs

  1. Kathleen Simpson, West Virginia
    March 27, 2018 at 6:22 am

    David – you say you keep in a cool spot and don’t water.  Is this spot outside and exposed to rain?


  2. Lynn Slackman, Missouri
    Lynn Slackman, Missouri
    March 27, 2018 at 6:24 am

    Excellent words of wisdom! This definitely gives me a path forward for the NZ bulbs I just received.

    Thanks again…Lynn Slackman

  3. David Adams, New Zealand
    March 27, 2018 at 10:56 am

    At our place summer rain hardly penetrates the dry soil and evaporates off very quickly. I think if the bulb is planted a little deeper then the soil is cool enough to tolerate a bit of rain.