When to Plant Purchased Spring Bulbs & roots?

None of the spring bulbs I've bought give me any idea when it is safe to put them in the ground.
I'm in north zone 5 on a hillside that is a bit colder than the rest of the county. We still have one last patch of ice in the yard and my compost heap is still frozen but my bulbs are growing like gangbusters.
The stuff I bought includes:
1. Dahlias (regular and the spiny type). I potted up last year's which I stored in peat in the basement to see if I could give them a head start (and figure out if they are still alive.) I am wondering if I should pot up the new ones to give them a head start, too. I was told I can't plant these until no frost and last year mine seemed to take forever to grow from roots and they flowered later than everyone else's I saw on my walks, though they did eventually have pretty flowers. Should I pot the new ones to get a head start or just wait until it's warmer?
2. Lily of the Valley - I've got a lot of woodsy shade that won't grow much under some oaks. I read online that they probably won't flower this year.
3. Balloon flower.
4. Clematis (well, there's a bit of help with them. The packages says "when the ground temperature is 50 degrees". Does that mean they can withstand a night frost? The ones I got are teensy and I stuck these in potting soil with a stick to climb as they were already growing in the bag. From reading about them online, it sounds like maybe I should grow them in big containers on my deck this summer and plant them in September. I'd like to have them grow on the trellis surrounding our deck where we had a really nice show of Morning glories last year. It isn't full sun by any stretch of the imagination, but the morning glories didn't seem to mind, so I'm hoping they clematis won't either.
Also, what about planting dianthus? I found some for sale next to the pansies and wondered if this means I can put them in the ground now.
I learned an amazing amount about gardening here last year and am really excited about what I'm going to be able to do this year.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Pot them. You could get some of those brown pots (usually called peat pots, but I see them with all sorts of names) that will go away in the soil over time and just plant pot and all when there is no danger of frost. I saw some here at either Wal-Mart or Lowe's the other day that were plenty big to start dahlias in. If you wait until after frost and plant them out in the garden, it will just be that much longer before you have flowers.

I have no idea. One of the common garden plants that I have never tried. I see them every year and think about buying some but I know they will be everywhere the next year too and I keep saying "nah, get this more unique plant first." And so I never buy them.

I wouldn't plant clematis out until there is no chance of frost. Actually for young plants, your deck probably would be a great place to get them started since it sounds like it does not have really intense sun. Clematis like mulch to keep the roots cool and it is a litter harder to keep them happy in pots than in the ground if they are in the hot sun. I bought some clematis last year and just planted them out, little plants that I picked up in bags at Wal-Mart. They both had new growth and looked pretty happy. They both died. This year I bought a couple but planted them in pots. I will let them grow for a few weeks and then plant them outside.

If they are the perennial type, yeah. If they are the annuals I would wait until it stops freezing to even buy any.
The fact that they were next to pansies means little, unfortunately.
I saw all sorts of cold sensitive plants at Lowe's and Wal-Mart two weeks ago and we had a 28 degree night after that. Things like peppers and tomatoes - even if they were not killed the peppers would never recover to be the plants they would have been without the freeze.
You have to be wary both of buying plants too early in spring and buying shrubs, trees and perennials that are not really hardy in your area. I have seen a lot of plants hardy to zone 8 and even 9 sold here in 6b as perennials, even though most of them would not survive even a mild winter here. Often they will have tags on them that will say how cold hardy they really are, which amuses me to no end. I guess nobody bothers to take their dead plants back to Lowe's because I see all sorts of plants every year being sold as perennials with that one-year guarantee that I KNOW will not survive the winter.

It gets more fun every year that you do it. Of course if you are like some of us, it becomes more and more work every year too, but the payoff is usually worth it.
--
pull the weeds to email me: snipped-for-privacy@WEEDSgmail.com

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks!
The clematis I bought were the cheap ones in bags at Wal-mart too, so I'll baby them.
I bought a bunch of expensive shrubs last year at the local upscale privately-owned garden center staffed by grad students from U. Mass's horticulture program before I'd had a chance to start learning anything. They turned out to not to be hardy enough for my microclimate (their label which I didn't look at until they were in the ground said zone 6, and I'm in the part of Zone 5 that is really more like 4.75!) They look pretty dismal this spring, though the guy I talked to there claims they may bounce back in a couple weeks.
In contrast, the cheap shrubs I bought at Home Depot and and on closeout at another local place looks great. Grew like gangbusters last year and they are full of buds now. So that taught me something--probably that the stuff they sell at Home Depot is the stuff that is hard to kill and that the fancy place sells things that require more knowledge than I have.
OTHO, all the bedding plants I bought at Home Depot and Wal-mart were crap and did very poorly, while the stuff I bought at a couple local places did extremely well. Right now, there's a 36" wide impatiens plant sitting near my sliding glass door which has been completely full of blooms all winter long. I bought it in a pack of 6 for $2.50 last spring, planted it on a rocky bank with almost no soil, transplanted it into a big pot in the soil it was sitting in with the builder's bark mulch still attached in October and watched it flower its little heart out all winter--in an eastern exposure window. Needless to say, I intend to buy a lot of plants from the lady who sold it to me (she grows them herself), even though she's a long drive from me on a nearly inaccessible road. She had dahlias for sale that I didn't know enough to buy last year, but this year, you better believe I'm buying them.
In short, a lot of what I learned last year was what to buy where. I'm lucky our area has a great number of places to buy plants chain and locally-owned and even a couple places that grow their own.
The work part is okay--gardening on my hilly lot is my exercise program. I would much rather get stiff and sore doing something that results in something beautiful rather than wasting time at some gym being forced to listen to dreadful music!
timorous barghest wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.