Ask the gardening expert

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I’d like to give bulbs as a wedding favor at an April wedding. What kind of bulbs can be planted in April or May, rather than in the fall?

In April and May, gardeners would be looking at planting hardy bulbs such as lilies and tender bulbs -- or corms, rhizomes or tubers -- such as gladiolas, begonias, cannas, caladiums and elephant ears.

I had several cannas get rotten last spring when it rained so much in April, I was wondering if I could do this: Instead of putting the bulbs outside (from the basement), why can’t I start them on my screened in porch in April? That way, they wouldn’t get torrents of rain in the whiskey barrels outside. I thought the barrels had good drainage, but they still got rotten outside. Do you think starting them in pots in April on a porch would work?

I think your idea of planting them in pots and keeping them in your screened porch is a good one. I’m a little confused about the behavior of your cannas, though. They actually grow well in moist soils and some even thrive in shallow pools of water. So, it might not be the soil drainage that caused the problems with your plants. Planting them in containers with fresh potting soil will certainly help them get off to a good start. Best wishes with your cannas.

When do you think I should put my hanging baskets of fuchsias and begonias out? I know we had snow on the ground less than two weeks ago, but it seems that I do see some hanging baskets around town.

I think it’s a little too early. I always want to see that the nighttime temps are up near the 50s.

I always want the temps up, for baskets and other gardening, including vegetables.

Celeste Lindsay is a WSU-master gardener. Send questions to mslindsay8@gmail.com.