Expect fewer bulbs to be found this fall

  • Spring flowering bulbs, such as daffodils, are planted in the fall.

    Spring flowering bulbs, such as daffodils, are planted in the fall. Photos Courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden

By Tim Johnson
Chicago Botanic Garden
Posted8/15/2021 7:00 AM

It is time to plan for and order spring flowering bulbs for your garden. Our Chicago Botanic Garden bulb vendors are indicating there is high demand for bulbs, and that there may be shortages of bulbs this year.

The soil in a bulb garden should be well drained. Any area in the garden that remains wet for long periods of time, or has standing water for any length of time, is unsuitable for bulbs. They prefer moisture in spring and fall and hot weather in the summer. Most prefer full sun.


When planted beneath a high branching tree, bulbs will often flower before the tree leafs out and will have only light shade to contend with as they store energy for blooming the following year.

Daffodils, ornamental onions, Siberian squill, snowdrops and winter aconite are recommended for areas where there are deer and rabbit present.

Because of high demand, there may be a shortage of bulbs this year.
Because of high demand, there may be a shortage of bulbs this year.

• Mid-August to mid-September is a good time to seed bare spots in your lawn. Choose a seed mix that is appropriate for the amount of sun at your site.

Grass grown from a mix blended for shade can look different from grass from a mix blended for sun. If your yard has adjoining areas of full sun, shade and partial shade, use a single mix of grass varieties for both sun and shade to give the lawn a more uniform appearance.

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Prepare the site for seeding by removing weeds and loosening the soil. Low areas will need additional topsoil. Rake out large clods, stones or debris to create a smooth seedbed. Then gently rake in the seed. Keep the soil moist. On warm days, this may require watering two or three times a day. A light layer of compost spread over the soil helps keep seeds moist.

Bluegrass takes about two weeks to germinate. It is important to keep the grass seed moist for successful germination. Watering can be scaled back to less frequent but deeper soakings as the new grass fills in.

When establishing a lawn by seed, you can expect weeds to come in before the grass can get fully established. You should mow a newly seeded lawn four times before treating with an herbicide for weeds. Pulling the weeds is also an option and can be done before mowing is necessary.

• Tim Johnson is director of horticulture at Chicago Botanic Garden, chicagobotanic.org.

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