An Appointment with Dr. Plantabulb

Dr. Plantabulb is an unusual practitioner who generally shows up in the fall and accepts patients all the way up until the time the ground freezes. If you are lucky, you can squeeze in an appointment with Dr. Plantabulb on a day like yesterday with a high temperature in the low 70’s and partly sunny skies.

For some gardeners, one appointment is enough to plant all the bulbs in their garden, but others may need several appointments.

My appointment late in the afternoon went very well and was focused primarily on a lot of Allium, Camassia (pictured above ) and Tulipa bulbs. Tulipa is a fancy way of saying that I planted species tulips, which are smaller and more likely to return the second and subsequent years. I’ve found that many of the bigger hybrid tulips are almost annuals around here, so I don’t bother with them. Wait, that’s not quite true, I will probably bother with them, buying a few bulbs* at the local garden center just as soon as they mark them down.

Many newer gardeners don’t realize that Dr. Plantabulb is available for appointments so late in the season, but truly as long as the ground isn’t frozen, you can plant bulbs. So don’t be afraid to take advantage of late season sales.

For those people who buy bulbs and then procrastinate on planting them until it really is too late, meaning too cold, they can work it out with Dr. Plantabulb to plant the bulbs in containers and then put them in a cold place, like an unheated garage or a root cellar, until spring, and enjoy the blooms that way. In fact, some gardeners, like Elizabeth at Gardening While Intoxicated, actually prefer to plant many bulbs that way from the beginning.

The important point is to see Dr. Plantabulb in the fall because in the spring, it is too late. We all know that. We all know that you plant bulbs in the fall, but I have been asked in the spring where one buys tulip and daffodil bulbs to plant in the garden, so I thought I should mention it as one can never really know the gardening skill or knowledge level of the reader. Though by doing so, I feel a bit like those fast food companies that had to print on the side of their coffee cups, “caution: contents may be very hot”.

Anyway, no matter how busy your fall is, be sure and make your appointment with Dr. Plantabulb as soon as possible. It will make your spring so much nicer!

(For those who are wondering, my therapist, Dr. Hortfreud, is aware of my appointment with Dr. Plantabulb and doesn’t have any issues with it, as long as she gets the full report afterward to add to my planting profile.)

* In gardener speak, "a few bulbs" is really a few dozen bulbs or more. It is definitely not "two or three".


  1. I've had a couple of sessions with Dr. Plantabulb the last few days, and expect to have more as soon as my species tulips arrive.

  2. I have a question to ask. In Feb we had a bulb sale in Austin. I bought some of the naturalizing tulips, clusiana. They came up and flowered and were beautiful. I waited until the foliage had died down and as I pulled the dead foliage out, out came the shrunken bulbs, They had not put on any root growth and therefore had not fattened up for the next year. So, I am wondering. What were the bulb society doing selling me these bulbs so late in the season? This year I have ordered the same bulbs from HCG and they are expected today. I am hoping for better things this year as they will grow their roots over the winter. Maybe Dr Pantabulb can offer her advice.

  3. Your garden is still so beautiful. Just when IS the bloom day each month? I scrolled back through some of your wonderful posts and saw that October's was on the 15th. And how does Bloom Day work? This gardener has an "inquiring mind that needs to know".


  4. Here in Texas, I consult with Dr. Narcissa Jonquilla Plantabulb as late as January and even February. We had a session earlier this month at the Bulb Mart, where I bought 100 Ivory Floradale tulips to plant in my late friend Amy's garden. Dr. NJP believes in following Elizabeth of GWI's advice to dig one large hole for the bulbs rather than individual holes. It's certainly easier on the hands!

    The verification word is drool. That's what we all do over bulb catalogs,right?

  5. Ah, so you are also a patient of Dr Plantabulb? He is good, isn't he? I have already had a few appointments with him (or is it her?) this autumn. I started my garden 1,5 years ago and one of my first mistakes was planting not enough flower bulbs! I planted about 100 bulbs last year, and that was simply not enough. So this year I have planted about 150 .... let's see how it will look this spring. My husband already calls it "small Keukenhof" and is planning to sell tickets ;-)


  6. Thanks for the Allium reminder. I dug up mine in front because they weren't working where they were. I'm going to put them in back behind a Hosta where their fading foliage won't be such an eyesore.

  7. I've already had my session with Dr. Plantabulb (sadly, though, not with weather as nice as you had), but now I need to talk to a doctor about digging up the dahlias. Dr. Digger perhaps?

  8. I met with the good doctor today. It was a quick appointment but we covered a lot of ground.

  9. I'm waiting for Dr. Plantabulb to finish up north, and then I'll see him (?) myself. We don't plant bulbs until November in central OK, so y'all can have DPB til then.~~Dee

  10. I have tested Dr. Plantabulb's patience many a time, but he is remarkably tolerant and easy to work with.

  11. I'd like to make an appointment with Dr. Plantabulb as soon as the rain stops. I've been digging up a new garden and cleaning things up and still haven't gotten around to bulb planting. I'm not worried yet, but if the weather doesn't improve I may be doing a lot of indoor bulb forcing this year.

  12. I had a couple early appointments with the good doctor this year, including one to plant camassia bulbs like yourself!

  13. Where I live, the ground doesn't ever freeze. Do you know when I should make an appointment with Dr. Plantabulb? I usually try to do so before mid to end of November, but I'm not sure what the best timing is.


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