Don’t plant your tulips yet! Enjoy swamp sunflowers while they’re still blooming

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With the temperatures cooling off a bit, you might think that it's a good time to plant your tulip bulbs, but it's still too early.

Tulip bulbs come without any roots on the bottom.  In order for it to grow roots, it needs to be planted at a time where it will experience about 15 weeks of cool temperatures.  If you plant them now, the tulip stems will be shorter and the flowers will be smaller.  Instead, keep them in your refrigerator as we move into the fall, and plant them around the first of December.  That will give them enough time in the cool temperatures to grow their roots and develop into the tall, big flowers that we love.

In the meantime, take advantage of some of the beautiful flowers that we have growing in our area this fall.  Our native Helianthus, or swamp sunflower, has been blooming for the last month, and will continue for a bit longer.  The swamp sunflower starts off with tiny, strap-like foliage in the summer, and then blooms for a long time into the fall, getting completely covered in bright yellow flowers.  These plants can grow up to eight or nine feet tall, so they're hard to miss.  See if you can find some around the Tennessee Valley this fall.

Have a gardening question?  Use the form below to ask the folks at Bennett Nurseries.  We may feature this in an upcoming Garden Tips segment!