Potting-up Bulbs Lifted from the Gardens

At Vineyard Gardens nursery, we are in the process of restoring and replanting the display beds on State Road. In the unfolding we’ve had to displace a lot of bulbs. Many were able to go back in the ground but there were leftovers which I decided to pot up for spring. I recalled a post by a gardening expert in England who decided to pot his bulbs deeper because in previous years he’d experienced them getting too tall and falling over. I decided to follow suit and plant deeper than I might otherwise.

Here is my process for potting our “leftover” bulbs:

1) POT AND POTTING MIXTURE. I use Happy Frog Potting Mix, one of the products available at the Vineyard Gardens Garden Center. It’s light and fluffy with good drainage and high organic content.

2) MIXED, UNKNOWN BULB VARIETIES. The bulbs I dug up are already in big clumps so they will have a nice, naturalized effect when they emerge in the spring. Ordinarily when potting up bulbs we use individual, packaged bulbs. These “clumped bulbs” can be handled a little differently when potted-up because the individual bulbs will be placed tighter than they would be in the ground. Usually when we pot bulbs we only get one season out of them so we’re not concerned about spacing for years of growth and development.



4) ADD BROKEN CROCKERY TO THE BOTTOM OF YOUR POT. This keeps the soil and sand from escaping every time you water yet allows the water to drain out. Standing water, like in a pot with no drainage hole, will rot the bulb. Paperwhites and Hyacinths do survive in standing water but after they flower they are composted.


6) ADD A NICE THICK LAYER OF POTTING SOIL WITH A SPRINKLE OF OSMOCOTE, A TIME-RELEASE FERTILIZER. We have Osmocote for sale at Vineyard Gardens Garden Center. There are a couple of different kinds, one biased for general growth (green label) and another specifically for developing flowers (pink label). We use Osmocote on practically everything we grow at the nursery. Plants burn up fertility, especially in containers. They are stressed and many nutrients are washed out in runoff due to their need for constant watering.

7) ADD ANOTHER THIN LAYER OF SAND. The whole process is a little like making Lasagna, layer upon layer. I add this layer of sand so the bulbs don’t sit directly in the wet soil. It also provides a quick, easy root run as the bulbs are developing their feeding roots over the winter.

8) ADD THE BIG CLUMP OF BULBS JUST AS THEY CAME OUT OF THE GROUND. Peel off any bulbs that got severed by the spade when they were dug out. Feather apart (divide) really big clumps and any loose little bulblets on the outside of the main clump. Nestle the clump down into the soil base. Add any random loose bulbs around the perimeter.

9) ADD ANOTHER LAYER OF POTTING SOIL UP TO THE RIDGE, A COUPLE OF INCHES FROM THE TOP OF THE POT. Scatter any other tiny loose bulb near the top, then press them in an inch or so. Add a thin layer of potting soil to finish it off.


11) TOP IT OFF WITH SAND. Sand makes a nice even surface for new growth to come up through and acts as a mulch to prevent moisture evaporation. Bulbs need perfect drainage but adequate moisture, so sand is an important material in the process. Ordinarily at this point I would water it but we’re late in the season and I wouldn’t want for the soil to be sodden when we get another hard freeze.


Thank you to our Vineyard Gardens Landscaping and Nursery team!

It’s the season for giving thanks and we are so thankful for our amazing team here at Vineyard Gardens! We could not do this without each and every one of our hardworking staff. These fabulous portraits were documented by the talented Keith Kurman, our resident photographer and landscape designer. Please visit our ABOUT page to meet our team!


Come join us this coming Saturday Oct 6 from 11am to 3pm for our annual Harvest Festival! There will be food, nature crafts, live music and garden tours. Fun for the whole family! FREE!!

Live music by the The Princess Poo-Pooly Ukelele Group

Food: Chili, hot dogs, corn bread, caramel apples and pumpkin pie


We have an abundant supply of garlic in stock! It is a wonderful crop that is planted in the fall and harvested the following summer. It is easy to grow and requires very little space in the garden. Garlic is also a natural pest repellent!


  • Best time to plant garlic is in the fall. Plant 6 to 8 weeks before first expected frost date.

  • Plant in a spot that has not recently been used for garlic or other plants from the onion family.

  • Plant in a sunny spot with well drained soil.

  • Work several inches of compost or manure and fertilizer into the bed.

  • Break apart cloves from bulb a few days before planting, keep the papery husk on each individual clove.

  • Space the cloves 4-6" apart. Rows should be spaced one foot apart. The cloves should be planted with the pointed end up and the blunt end down. Push each clove 1-2" into the ground, firm the soil around it, and water the bed if it is dry.

  • After planting, lay down a protective mulch of straw. The mulch should be approximately 4 inches thick. Mulch will help prevent the garlic roots from being lifted out of the ground by freezing and thawing.

Spring Care

  • Mulch should be removed in the spring after the threat of frost has passed.

  • In the spring, as warmer temperatures come, shoots will emerge through the ground.

  • When the leaves begin to grow, it is important to feed the garlic plants to encourage good growth. Gently work in Osmocote into the soil near each plant.

  • Cut off any flower shoots that emerge in spring to encourage bulb growth.

  • Keep well weeded. Garlic doesn’t do well with competition.

  • Water every 3 to 5 days during bulbing (mid-May through June).

  • Fertilize again just before the bulbs begin to swell usually early May.

  • By June remove any remaining mulch and stop watering. The garlic will store better if you allow the soil around the bulbs to dry out.


  • Harvest garlic when most of the leaves have turned brown. This usually occurs in mid-July to early August.

  • Dig up bulbs (don't pull), being careful not to bruise them. If the bulbs are left in the ground too long, they may separate and will not store well.

  • Lay the garlic plants out to dry for 2 or 3 weeks in a shady, dry spot for two weeks.

  • Do not get the bulbs wet or break them apart, or the plants won't last as long.


  • The bulbs are cured and ready to store when the wrappers are dry and papery and the roots are dry.

  • Either tie the garlic in bunches (4 to 6), braid the leaves, or cut the stem a few inches above the bulb. Hang the braids and bunches or store the loose bulbs on screens or slatted shelves in a cool, airy location. You may want to set aside some of the largest bulbs for replanting in the fall.

  • During the winter months check your stored garlic bulbs often, and promptly use any that show signs of sprouting.


At Vineyard Gardens nursery we have a wonderful selection of Miscanthus Maiden Grass. It a low maintenance, deer resistant ornamental grass commonly planted in groups along a border or for privacy screening; along edges of beds; and excellent for container planting. It has fine-textured, silvery-green foliage that turn golden-bronze in autumn and has spectacular plumes in late summer.

How to Grow Maiden Grass

Maiden grass thrives in full sun and may get 6 feet wide with a 10 foot spread. The grass requires well-drained soil, but is tolerant of excess moisture, dry conditions, acidic soils and even hard clay sites.  Propagation of ornamental maiden grasses is through division. You may dig up a mature plant in early spring before new growth has appeared. Cut the root base into two to four sections and plant each as a new plant. It is important to do it when the center of the plant is showing signs of dying out, an indicator that it is time to divide the grass.

Care Information

Easily grown in average, well-drained soils with consistent moisture. Water deeply, regularly during first growing season to establish an extensive root system; reduce frequency when established. Hard prune and apply fertilizer in late winter to early spring just before new shoots appear. Pruning time: early spring.



Happy customer!


Hydrangeas have a beautiful classical elegance and charm that is very representative of Martha's Vineyard. They are easy to cultivate, tolerate almost any soil, and produce abundant blooms throughout the summer and fall. Hydrangea color ranges from shades of blue, pink, lavender to  white. They are very versatile and can be planted in group plantings to shrub borders to containers. At Vineyard Gardens we carry loads of Hydrangeas! We sell them in 5 gal, 10 gal and 20 gallon pots.


  • Plant in spring or fall.

  • Plant in full sun in the morning, with some afternoon shade. Bigleaf hydrangeas will grow and bloom in partial shade.

  • Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and 2 to 3 times as wide.

  • Set the plant in the hole and fill it half full with soil. Water. After water is drained, fill the rest of the hole with soil.

  • Water thoroughly.

  • Space multiple hydrangeas about 3 to 10 feet apart.


  • For the first two years after planting and during any drought, be sure hydrangeas get plenty of water. Leaves will wilt if the soil is too dry.

  • If your soil is light or sandy, it’s best to fertilize hydrangea once a year in late winter or spring. Otherwise if your soil is rich you do not need to fertilize, too much fertilizer encourages leafy growth at the expense of blooms.


  • Bigleaf and Oakleaf Hydrangea are pruned AFTER the flowers fade in the summer.

  • Mopheads: It’s best not to deadhead (remove faded blooms). Leave them over the winter and cut them back in early spring (to the first healthy pair of buds).

  • Lacecaps: Deadhead, cut down to the second pair of leaves below the flower head.

  • Flower buds form in the late summer and flower the following season. Avoid pruning after August 1.

  • Only cut away dead wood in the fall or very early spring.

  • To prune, cut one or two of the oldest stems down to the base to encourage branching and fullness.

  • If the plant is old, neglected, or damaged, prune all the stems down to the base. You’ll lose the flowers for the upcoming season, but also rejuvenate the plant for future years.


  • Panicle and Smooth hydrangeas are pruned BEFORE flower buds are formed. These varieties blossom on the current season’s stems.

  • Prune in the late winter when the plant is dormant. This means that if the buds are killed during the winter, the plant will produce new buds in the spring which will produce blooms.

  • In general, prune only dead branches, and do not prune to “shape” the bush.


Oak Leaf Hydrangea