Ask Burton: Q: How do I make my tulips look good this time? Every time I plant tulips, they never look like the bulbs at the Arboretum. They’re trying to bloom, but the bloom stems are stunted and unimpressive.

A: Your tulips need to chill. And we’re not intending that as humor.

Many spring-blooming bulbs – chief among them tulips and hyacinths – would benefit from spending six weeks in the refrigerator. Place the bulbs in paper sacks in the crisper drawer, and ideally a refrigerator that does not contain fruit or vegetables. (Ripening fruit in particular, but fruits and veggies emit a gas that when trapped in a refrigerator can damage the growth of your bulbs. That’s why we tend to recommend a ‘garage refrigerator’.) Chill the bulbs, but make sure they do not freeze.

With proper chilling, your bulbs will show their best show. Without… well, you get the show you’ve previously had.

Buy your tulips soon if you have not yet done so. Put them immediately in the refrigerator. After this week, try to purchase tulips that have already begun their chilling. Leave them in the refrigerator until mid-December, and make sure to have them in ground before Christmas.