Nothing screams “Spring is here!” quite like a bed full of blooming tulips and daffodils. They are the harbingers of spring and nicer weather to follow. Spring blooming bulbs dot our landscapes and we decorate our homes for Easter with potted hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips. While gardeners in cooler, northern climates may take these reliable, naturalizing bulbs for granted, in hot, southern climates, most gardeners can only enjoy some of them as annuals and container-grown plants. Continue reading to learn about growing bulbs in zone 8.
When to Plant Bulbs in Zone 8
There are two main types of bulbs we plant in the garden: spring flowering bulbs and summer flowering bulbs. Spring flowering bulbs are probably what comes to mind most often when you hear someone mention bulbs. These bulbs include:
- Lily of the valley
- Some lilies
- Trout lily
The flowers usually bloom in early to late spring, with some even blooming in late winter in zone 8. Spring blooming bulbs are normally planted in fall to early winter in zone 8 – between October and December. Zone 8 bulb planting for spring blooming bulbs should be done when soil temperatures are steadily below 60 F. (16 C.).
In zones 4-7, most of the above-mentioned spring blooming bulbs are planted in fall, then just left to grow and naturalize for years before they need dividing or replacing. In zone 8 or higher, winters can be too warm for these plants to receive their required dormancy period, so they may only live for one season before getting dug up and stored in a cool location or just discarded.
Spring bloomers like daffodil, tulip, and hyacinth generally require a cold, dormancy period of 10-14 weeks in order to bloom properly. Warmer parts of zone 8 may not provide cool enough winter temperatures. Plant producers that specialize in potted arrangements and some southern gardeners will mock cool winter weather by storing bulbs in a refrigerator before planting them.
Additional Planting Time for Zone 8 Bulbs
Besides spring blooming bulbs, which need to be planted in fall to early winter, there are also summer blooming bulbs, which are planted in spring and normally do not require a chilling period. Summer flowering bulbs include:
- Elephant ear
- Some lilies
These bulbs are planted in spring after all danger of frost has passed. In zone 8, summer blooming bulbs are usually planted in March and April.
When planting any bulbs, always read their label’s hardiness requirements and planting recommendations. Certain varieties of spring blooming bulbs perform better and can be longer-lived in zone 8 than others. Likewise, certain varieties of summer blooming bulbs can naturalize in zone 8, while others may only grow as an annual.