Best Time To Plant Spring-Flowering Bulbs & Passion Vine Recovery

Question:

When is the best time to plant Tulip, Daffodil and other spring-flowering bulbs, and is it okay to plant bulbs in containers/planters instead of the ground? I’m new to all of this. 

Answer:

  •  It’s perfectly okay to plant bulbs in containers of all sizes and shapes. While others may disagree, I believe that the planting season is from the end of October through the end of the year.
    • This is when the ground has started to cool off, as days are getting shorter and the night’s cooler. It is suggested to purchase your bulbs early from mid-September through October for the best selection.
    • You should also keep in mind that tulips and hyacinths need to be chilled for six weeks before planting, while daffodils don’t. A refrigerator is sufficient.  It’s necessary to chill them for blooms next year.
    • In the Bay Area, Mother Nature doesn’t provide enough cold like in other areas. A picnic cooler maybe a better answer if you, as most of the fruits and vegetables stored in a fridge, give off ethylene gas while ripening, especially apples, pears, tomatoes, and avocados. This gas will damage the dormant flowers.
    • The rest of the bulbs can be stored in the garage or any other cool and dry location until you are ready to plant.
  •  The planting depth will vary with the container. With shallow dish type containers, the nose or top of the bulbs is right as the soil surface while in deeper containers, you can double or triple deck different types of bulbs in one container depending on the size.
  • Also, they don’t have to be planted all in one day some now others six weeks from now. It is also suggested to add Bulb Food at the planning time
  • Depending on the size of the bulb, add a teaspoon or tablespoon of Bulb Food under each one. It is acceptable to add seasonal color such as pansies, violas primula, and others to the deep containers. I prefer to do this so I can enjoy the containers right away.  

Question:

Three years ago, we planted passion vine to cover a one hundred foot long fence. We recently cut it back to remove all the dead undergrowth of twigs, stems, leaves and other debris. Now, all that is left is bare stems and trunks. What can I do to improve its looks, or is it dead?

Answer:

  • Passion vines are an aggressive grower. It’s common for it to grow on top of itself and form a thick mat. I’d expect that you should see some new growth developing off the bare stems in a couple of weeks.
  • To encourage new growth, I would fertilize the plants with 16-16-16. Next time, it’s ready for a haircut, I’d prune it severely in March/April. This gives you a longer growing season for the vine to re-establish itself. Pruning it severely in the fall, you run the risk of cool weather damage with an early frost and a short growing season. For the growing season, end with the first Sunday in November when Daylight Saving ends.