The time has come that many gardeners treasure all winter long, when garden centers are now stocked with aisles of seed packets, as well as shelves filled with boxes and packages of bulbs, tubers, bare root plants and more.
Stock up now and save money on some of your favorite summer blooms by selecting bare root and boxed perennials instead of waiting for potted plants later in the season.
While many gardeners hesitate at buying boxed, dormant plants at this time of year, purchasing bare root and preparing to plant them in place, or in containers is actually beneficial to the plant and can reduce stress when placed in the garden.
Bare root plants are essentially dormant, dried roots, tubers and bulbs ready for planting as the growing season kicks off. Getting them into the soil and watering immediately upon planting enables these dormant plants to quickly emerge. This reduces transplant shock seen when adding potted plants to the garden.
One of the biggest benefits of buying bare root and bulb form perennials and annuals now is the cash savings you'll enjoy. For a fraction of the cost of a potted perennial, you'll enjoy multiple plants purchased in bare root form.
Many are prepackaged into 3, 6, a dozen or more, often at the price you pay for just one gallon-sized perennial at the garden center.
Bare root perennials that you might find at the garden center are daylilies, hostas, astilbe, coral bells, peonies, poppies, ferns, bleeding hearts, as well as berry producing shrubs, asparagus, strawberries and more.
Bulbs, corms and tubers available include many varieties of lilies, including Oriental lilies orienpets, trumpet lilies, Asiatics and others. You'll also find gladiolus, dahlias, callas, cannas, elephant ears, caladium and more.
Because these packaged plants come in multiples, you'll enjoy a number of fresh blooms and vibrant colors for the cost of what you might pay for just one single potted plant later in the season.
Each package contains planting instructions, including planting depth, light conditions, and other helpful tips. Some bare root plants are easier to start than others. Most bulbs, such as lilies, are extremely easy to plant and grow in the garden, even in containers.
Touchier bare root perennials include coral bells, Oriental poppies, some of the ferns and Jacob's ladder. The trick with these types of plants is to barely cover the roots in soil and plants in loose, loamy conditions. The reason gardeners have trouble with these specific plants is generally gardener error. Because of the appearance of the bare root plants, it is easy to plant these too deeply, resulting in crown rot and loss of the plant.
The same rule applies to bearded iris, also available in bare root farm this time of year. Gardeners tend to lose irises by planting them too deep. This results in plenty of green growth, but little bloom. These bare root iris rhizomes should be planted horizontally, so that just the roots and a portion of the potato-like rhizome are beneath the soil. The top of the rhizome should be visible above the soil line.
Blazing stars, a popular native perennial that blooms in a purple spike later in summer is a plant that many are surprised is available in bareroot form. Quarter-sized corms can be planted an inch or two deep in the garden, blooming the first year and attracting butterflies, bees and other pollinators to the garden.
Blazing stars are one of the most economical bare root plants purchases you could possibly make. A bag of 25 to 50 corms may cost $9.99 or less, a huge savings compared to a single potted blazing star that will cost at least that in the garden center.
Visit your local garden center, home store or hardware store to browse the selection of bare root perennials, bulbs, tubers and more this year and enjoy the beauty they provide all spring and summer.
Find Rob Zimmer online at www.robzimmeroutdoors.com. On Facebook at www.facebook.com/RobZimmerOutdoors. Listen to Outdoors with Rob Zimmer every Saturday morning 7 to 8 a.m. on WHBY. www.whby.com.