Speed Up Your Blooms With Bulblings

Are you a gardening procrastinator? Did you once again neglect to plant your bulbs in the fall and now find yourself walking around the neighborhood with your tail between your legs as you gaze upon the beauty of your neighbors' tulip-filled yards? Or do you live in a mild climate that doesn't get cold enough to nurture bulbs? Maybe you live in a climate that is too cold for bulbs to survive in containers.

Well, you're in luck. Bulblings are here.

What are Bulblings? Spring bulbs you can actually plant in the spring, and they will bloom within a few weeks. Yes, it's true. Until recently, spring bulbs could only be planted in the fall and required a lengthy period of time in the cold weather until the warmer days seduced them out of the ground. Bulblings are bulbs that have been fooled into thinking they have spent the winter underground through a greenhouse cooling system. Bulblings are ready to plant in the ground when they are shipped to you. Three weeks or so later, weather depending, you have bulbs to show off to your neighbors.

But you will pay a high price for these little gems. In the fall, I pay about $15 for a value pack of 40 tulip bulbs at my local nursery. Bulblings, however, cost $35 for a pack of just 12. They come in several varieties and colors, including tulips, narcissus, hyacinths and daffodils, and run all about the same price in packages of eight or 12.

Preplanted Bulbs

I decided to try out the Tulipa Angelique, my favorite tulip in the world, in bulbling form. Blushing pale pink in color, Angelique tulips have stately 20-inch stems and bloom like peonies. I ordered my Bulblings tulips from garden.com back in January, and they were mailed to me in late March, the appropriate time for my geographical location. Twelve bulbs arrived in a flat, blanketed with a soft green covering and some mesh. Most of them were already sending up green shoots and were obviously eager to be planted. Bulblings come with a frost warning, so keep them protected from freezing weather.

Planted Bulbs

They are basically safe once in the ground but do not leave them out in freezing temperatures if they are still in the flats that they were shipped in. Simply plant them in the ground as you would fall bulbs but not quite as deep. The tops of the bulbs should be just beneath the surface of the ground. When I planted mine, they looked about as far along as the tulip bulbs that were already in my garden. Since I planted my Bulblings around the third week of March last year, we had a few nights that hit freezing and even some snow in April. This slowed down the growth of the Bulblings, which would normally be blooming after two to three weeks.

Even though I embrace these kinds of horticultural innovations, especially ones that help me redeem myself as a gardener, I can't help but feel a tug of sadness that the fall planting of bulbs may be waning. The ritual of preparing the garden for winter with the promise of spring blooms is a transcendent experience. Bulblings alone won't jeopardize this ritual, but as they become more economical and accessible, we may be planting our tulips and daffodils with our spring annuals more often.

Although I will miss the delayed gratification of planting bulbs in the fall, I will benefit as a laggard and be able to enjoy my tulips no matter how behind I am in my gardening tasks. Given that life seems to be getting more hectic rather than less, Bulblings may be my only chance of enjoying bulbs in my own yard. And for that, I am grateful.

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