November is fast approaching, and we're actually forecasted to get a bit of snow this week, so it's time to get those spring flowering bulbs in the ground! I actually like to wait until the weather man forecasts snow before I put my bulbs in the ground, mostly because I always get nervous that they'll rot if Mother Nature decides to give us a two week heat wave. Flowering bulbs are super easy to plant, and if you do your “designing” ahead of time, the actual planting will take you less than a nice brisk fall afternoon. Gardeners can choose from a plethora of spring-flowering bulbs however, some of the more popular spring bulbs include daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, crocus, allium, Iris, and lily. Investing a bit of time, energy and of course money, in fall plated bulbs will reward you with beautiful color & fragrance in the spring.
Now that you’ve identified which flowers you want to grow, it’s time to get to them ordered and in the ground.
Bulbs should be available in abundance at your local nursery. The nice thing about buying from your local nursery is that you can touch and feel the bulbs. Another bonus is that you’re supporting local business.
You can also purchase bulbs online. Be sure to select a reputable source for healthy bulbs. Although there are multiple distributors on the web a couple of suggestions would be Burpee (http://www.burpee.com/), and bbbseed (http://www.bbbseed.com/).
And finally, there are many print catalogs that you can order flowering bulbs from. Burpee also has a print catalog, and another notable catalog I like is from, Spring Hill Nursuries (http://springhillnursery.com/).
When to Plant
October is a great time to plant spring flowering bulbs as evening and morning temperatures average between 40°F & 50°F. These temperatures usually drop average soil temperatures below 60°F which is perfect for bulb root development. To be sure of proper soil temperatures wait until after the first frost.
I’ve also heard that many gardeners believe that if you plant your bulbs during a waxing moon as opposed to a waning moon conditions are perfect for spring bulb planting. Waxing is when the moon is getting bigger, and waning is when the moon is getting smaller.
Where to Plant
You can plant bulbs pretty much anywhere as long as the soil is well drained. My grandfather always told me that flowering bulbs don’t like to have their “feet” wet, and the Dutch say “bulbs don’t like wet feet” maybe grandpops was Dutch? Seriously soil that doesn’t drain well will usually rot bulbs. Bulbs also like a lot of sun, but since there is no foliage on the trees in the spring they’ll get a lot of sun pretty much anywhere.
Preparing the Soil
You should prepare the soil just like you would any other flower bed. Loosen the soil so it’s workable, and breathable. You should take this opportunity to mix a bit of compost and manure in with the soil. The compost and the manure are all the fertilizer that the newly planted bulbs will require.
Once you soil is prepped planting is easy follow the following tips and you’ll enjoy brilliant colors & fantastic fragrances come spring:
- Plant “pointy” end up. Although the bulb will most likely grow no matter how it’s “thrown” into the ground they will enjoy better root development if the pointy end is up.
- Plant bigger bulbs 8” deep and smaller bulbs 5” deep. If you’re not into using a ruler a good rule of thumb is to plant the bulb twice as deep as the high of the bulb itself…hope that makes sense…and if not check out the image below for a little help…
- Plant bulbs in groups. Try not to scatter them about one by one. Groups of bulbs produce a much more impressive display of color!
- Since you have already prepped you soil there really isn’t a need for fertilizer. Bulbs tend to store fertilizer especially for the first years growth. If you feel you must fertilize, you can soak the roots of the bulb in Annie Haven’s MOOPOO (http://www.manuretea.com) overnight, and water newly planted bulbs with it after planting.
- BIG TIP…keep the rodents out! I purchase inexpensive window screen. When the bulb is in the ground I cut a square somewhat larger than the hole place it over the soil and cover with mulch. If you don’t have mulch in the bed simply cover with a layer of soil. I have also heard putting old plastic potting pots over them works, but I know for fact that wouldn’t work against the genius squirrels and chipmunks at my house!
- Finally, water them down nicely and voila done!
So as you can see planting bulbs is super easy, and if you follow the tips I’ve laid out above you’ll enjoy fantastic flowers in the spring. I also love spring bulbs as they do signal that spring is here, and I know it’s time for spring garden duty!!
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