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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - October 25, 2010

From: Schroon Lake , NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Cacti and Succulents, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Mulching Spring Bulbs in Upstate NY
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Just planted tulip bulbs for Spring. The Parks Department then put 4 inches of mulch on top. Will the tulips be able to get through and bloom come Spring? Is mulch a good winterizer for them? Indoor cactus-how often to water?

ANSWER:

Although tulips are not North American native plants and the mission of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is "to increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes" some of us here at Mr. Smarty Plants do have experience in this area. 

Your tulips will be fine.  It may take a bit longer for the soil to warm up under that thick blanket of mulch, but the shoots will eventually find their way to the surface.  That is if the squirrels don't find them before the ground freezes ... squirrels (and mice) love tulips (daffodils are poisonous).  Because tulips are one of the later spring bulbs to flower, you may find that they will not bloom for a number of years in succession. The plant requires at least six weeks for the foliage to photosynthesize in order to produce enough food for a bloom the next year.  If the weather gets hot the foliage can spoil before enough food is stored.  That is why gardeners in warmer zones usually plant tulips every year.  You are in Zone 4, so you may have great success.

As far as your cactus goes, there is no way we can advise you.  It depends on what type of cactus it is and what type of conditions you are growing it in.  You will have to watch it and act accordingly, remembering that more plants die of too much water than not enough.  Make sure the soil is dry between waterings but don't wait until the flesh loses firmness or starts to wrinkle.


 

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