Bulbs Planted Now Bloom Beautiful This Spring
In a way, Dallas Blooms 2018 has already begun at the Dallas Arboretum, because the horticulture work to get ready for the spring is well underway. It starts in late fall, making this one of the busiest times of the year for our Horticulture Team. There is a lot involved in getting the garden ready for the 500,000 spring-blooming bulbs. We use Tulips, Narcissus, Hyacinth, and Dutch Iris. We plan out the beds months in advance so that all the material will be available when it comes time to put the bulbs in the ground.
Spring Bulbs’ Arrival
We receive 32 pallets, which have 35 bulb crates on each pallet. Each crate itself has about 300-600 bulbs in it and weighs about 30 to 40 pounds, so that’s over 500,000 bulbs! We store them in a large refrigerated truck that stays at a constant temperature. Bulbs sprout in warmer temps, so this keeps them from starting to grow too early. Once we receive all the bulbs, we stack and organize them by variety. The bulb trailer fills up pretty fast and by the end we are left with an almost filled truck.
Journey of the Bulbs
Based on our planting schedule, we pull the bulbs day before they will be planted. If there are multiple varieties per bed we mix them so that they are evenly distributed. Then we throw them into the bed and space them out evenly.
We plant some bulbs in a “bubble,” which means we plant them in a larger hole so that they come up in a showier manner. Once all the bulbs are laid out, a planting crew comes through and plant the bulbs six inches deep.
Then we add a cover crop of pansies so that guests will always see a full, beautiful bed when they visit, even before these bulbs have bloomed.
After everything is planted, we play a waiting game. We depend on the weather to stay cool so that the bulbs do not start growing early, but in Texas we never know what the weather will do. If we have a relatively warm winter, the bulbs will come up early. Narcissus and Hyacinths always come up first, regardless of weather.
We use many different types of tulips, and the various varieties come up at different times of the season. This stretches our spring bloom season so the beds will stay full of tulips for many weeks. In the trials garden, we will have each type of tulip in its own bubble so you can see which ones are early, middle, and late.
Bulbs and You
If you want to use bulbs in your garden, they are relatively simple to plant and tend. Make sure to plant them when it starts to get cold, in late November through December. Plant the bulbs six inches down, with the pointed part of the bulb sticking up. If you want to put a cover crop, pansies and violas are the best choice. Narcissus and hyacinths will sometimes perennialize, meaning they will come back multiple years. Tulips will not receive enough chill hours here in Texas to be able to come back and you will need to buy new bulbs every year.
Spring Blooms 2018
Despite the dormancy that is winter in the garden, our Horticulture Team is working non-stop to make a wonderful show for you in spring. In fact, it’s because of this dormancy and cool weather that we’re able to coordinate such a spectacular show, able to accommodate hundreds of thousands of guests who want to see the best Tulip show this side of Holland.