Get Growing! Bare Root Perennials and Summer Flowering Bulbs

Timing is everything when it comes to planting bare root perennials and summer flowering bulbs, and while it’s still too chilly to plant directly into the garden, you can get started with containers.

Give yourself the opportunity to shop early for the best selection.

Establishing young plants in containers helps you better control the growing conditions, plus you’ll be well on your way to summer blooms. Make the most of your spring season, dig up your motivation and get growing!

Bare Root Perennials

Perennials are long-lived plants which die back in the fall, go dormant in the winter and return to grow each spring becoming flourishing summer plants.  Bare root perennials in packages are dormant. Once planted, they’ll wake up and start growing with the seasons. The benefit of working with a bare root perennial is that they can handle cooler temperatures and quickly establish themselves. They’ll grow into a healthy plant in a short period of time.

For best results, plant bare roots as soon as you purchase them.  If the soil can be worked in your area, you can plant bare roots. Most bare roots appear dormant and relatively dry, but some may show the start of a green growing tip. Starting them in containers in a cold frame greenhouse or unheated porch allows you to protect them from freezing temperatures as well as control how much water they receive. Just be sure to choose a container with lots of room for the roots to spread out.

Not ready to plant? Keep bare roots in the medium they were packaged in, and store them in a cool, dark place, 2-4°C (35-40°F). Lightly mist the peat moss with water to provide a little moisture.

If you’ve never worked with bare roots before, our post – Starting Bare-Root Perennials has all the information you need to successfully grow perennials.

Florissa’s Tips!

Wondering if it’s okay to start planting outdoors? Across Canada, the tradition is to wait until the Victoria Day weekend, but what may be true for a gardener in Edmonton, might be different in Halifax and Saskatoon. Check with the internet for the last average frost date in your area and watch overnight temperatures as they vary from year to year.

Summer Flowering Bulbs

There is no easier way to add colour to a balcony, deck or patio than with summer flowering bulbs in containers. Set aside an afternoon for planting, and you’ll reap huge rewards – a profusion of spectacular summer flowers. Dahlias, Begonias, Calla Lilies, Cannas, and Gladiolus are all suitable for growing in containers.

Choose containers that are wide and deep enough to accommodate your choice of bulbs. There should be holes in the bottom to let excess water drain out. Use a well-draining potting soil mix and water well after planting. Continue to keep the soil moist but not too wet. Locate containers in a sunny window that receives a lot of light. Do not expose containers to freezing temperatures, as frost can kill summer flowering bulbs and ruin your efforts. It won’t take long to see signs of green pushing through the soil, and once you do, young plants will quickly establish themselves. After all danger of frost has passed, the young plants can be transferred to their final outdoor location.


  • Norma
    April 3, 2018

    Nerine Aurea bulbs

    can I plant now in early April and keep in a sunny window in an unseated garage

    • David
      April 3, 2018

      Hi Norma,

      Yes, you can plant Nerine Aurea in a container and locate it in a sunny window, in an unheated garage – as long as there’s no exposure to freezing temperatures. Nerine Aurea is a tender bulb, sensitive to frost. Nerine Aurea bulbs prefer a warm sunny location, and are easy to grow. They enjoy well-draining soils, moderate watering and an occasional application of fertilizer. Nerine resents being disturbed once established. If you plan to grow Nerine in a container, allow the bulbs to become overcrowded. They’ll put on a gorgeous golden show!

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