How to Jumpstart Summer Blooming Bulbs

4 Materials
2 Hours

I live and garden in Zone 4b. If I waited until it was warm enough to start bulbs outdoors, it would be the end of summer before they bloomed. Of course, I could buy the plants, but why should I pay someone else to grow them, when I can do it myself. Plus, I'm sort of a gardening geek and I get a kick out of watching things grow.

Supplies for Starting Bulbs Indoors:

  • Bulbs or Tubers
  • Pots - at least 5 inches or larger
  • Good potting mix.
  • Early Start Chart to keep track of the date your bulb was planted and the date it emerged, as well as other notes. This will be great to refer back to the following year (stop by Gingham Gardens to pick up yours).

Steps for Starting Summer Blooming Bulbs Indoors:

Start your bulbs about 6 weeks (caladium bulbs take more like 8 weeks) before the last frost date in your gardening zone. If you aren't sure of your gardening zone, just google "what gardening zone am I in."

Read the directions on your potting mix. Some potting mixes may need water added before starting to plant.

As a general rule of thumb, bulbs or tubers need to be planted a depth of 2 times their diameter. It's best to follow directions on the package of bulbs or tubers, but if you don't have the package, this gives you a place to start.

Fill your pot about half way with potting mix.

Place the bulb or tuber on top of the soil. Pay special attention to which end is up. With some bulbs it's difficult to tell, but I generally put the hairy root side down and the side with nodules up.

Finish filling the pot with soil and tamp the soil down lightly.

Water really well, unless your potting mix was wet to begin with. You want moist soil, but not soggy wet soil.

Next, place your potted bulbs into a tray that will catch water run-off.

This step is totally optional, but I highly recommend using a heat mat underneath the tray. A heat mat helps to provide consistent soil temperatures. And, some bulbs like caladium bulbs take forever to send up shoots and I believe the heat from underneath really helps them along.

Don't forget to water, but don't over water. Just a warning, if the soil stays wet or soggy for too long, the bulbs will rot. Don't let your pots sit in water.

Once I start seeing growth, I do a little happy dance! Really, it doesn't take much to get me excited. At this point the pots need a good light source. Unlike seedlings, my bulbs and tubers have always done fine in a sunny, south facing window. If the plants don't have an adequate light source they will get very leggy and spindly. If you don't have a sunny enough spot for them, consider putting them under grow lights. For more information about my light set-up, see my post on Indoor Seed Starting.

Here is an example of what I do with some of the bulbs I start indoors. Years ago, I purchased this old wheelbarrow from an estate sale. We drilled holes in the bottom for drainage and I've used it every year since as a planter somewhere in my gardens. It's a favorite of mine, but as a planter it takes a lot of plants to make it look full. The last few years, I've started both caladium and begonias to use in it and that makes it a little less expensive to fill.

For the complete tutorial and more pictures, pop over and check it out. I would encourage you to get a jump-start on your spring gardening and start some bulbs indoors.

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Joanna - Gingham Gardens
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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3 of 4 questions
  • Rdshultz47 Rdshultz47 on Feb 07, 2019

    What sort of plants can I display in my new room with patio doors at back without Too much work as I am 71.

  • Diane Wickham Diane Wickham on Feb 10, 2019

    Do you remove the plants from the pots before planting outside? Dumb question but wasn’t addressed.

  • Kimberly Syra-leffew Kimberly Syra-leffew on Feb 21, 2019

    I just bought a house and I have a front porch but the sun does not come on the porch side the back of the house faces south east and it gets all the sun.. what plants are good for the porch ? that gets very little sun and what kind of pots

    can I use?

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2 of 10 comments
  • Lisa Sinclair Lisa Sinclair on Feb 18, 2019

    I love starting our own plants ,indoors. Abt Feb. cabin fever starts to set in. And it's so nice to have a little bit a life , and I also know that spring is right around the corner. Thank you for sharing, and your plants look wonderful!

  • Joanna - Gingham Gardens Joanna - Gingham Gardens on Feb 18, 2019

    I’m so over winter, Lisa. I tend to go a little overboard starting plants indoors because of “cabin fever.” Have fun with your plant babies. Spring will be here before you know it.