Spring bulbs can be planted, but blooms could be delayed

Backyard Q&A

In the Garden

March 14, 2004|By Dennis Bishop | Dennis Bishop,Special to the Sun

I have some daffodil and narcissus bulbs left from last fall. If I plant them in the bare spots that reveal themselves this spring, are they likely to bloom next spring?

Yes, I would think so, but I would not want to bet on it. Spring-blooming bulbs like daffodils and narcissus gather their energy in spring and store it in the bulb before they die back to the ground in early summer. I would plant the bulbs as soon as possible and hope that they come up this spring. While it is unlikely they will bloom this year, they may have an opportunity to get rooted and produce leaves this spring. In that case, they will be able to store energy for next year's flowers. If they do not emerge this spring, I would not expect them to have enough energy to produce blooms next year. However, they should produce leaves next year and then bloom the following spring.

I am looking for a flowering shrub that can be used as a hedge plant. I love the beautiful flowers of doublefile viburnum. Does it make a good hedge?

The doublefile viburnum (Viburnum plicatum) is a beautiful plant and could be used as a screen in a large area, but I am not sure that I would use it as a hedge plant. It has a very strong horizontal structure and grows 10-12 feet or more wide. This would limit its use as a hedge to very large property. In addition, it can be a little finicky as to soil. It needs more moisture than other comparable plants and does not grow well in poor soil. If you have a large property and can meet its cultural requirements, you might give it a try. Otherwise, I would choose a plant that is smaller and easier to grow, such as Burkwood viburnum (Viburnum x burkwoodii). It grows 8 to 10 feet high by 6 to 8 feet wide and produces highly fragrant white flowers in midspring. Other good tall hedge plants are arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) and leatherleaf viburnum (Viburnum rhytidophyllum). None is perfect, but they are functional.


1. Greenhouse-grown plants must be hardened off before you plant them outside. Plants should be set out during warm days and brought in during cold days and at night for seven to 10 days. This will prepare them for the outdoors.

2. Pansies are best planted in fall, but they can be planted now and should be in plentiful supply at local retailers. For best results, plant as soon as possible.

Dennis Bishop is an urban horticulture educator for the Baltimore office of the Maryland Cooperative Extension Services. If you have a gardening or pest problem, you can call the Home and Garden Information Center hot line (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at 800-342-2507. You can also e-mail questions, order publications and diagnose plant problems by visiting the Web site www.hgic.umd.edu.

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