Melinda's How-To: Planting Bulbs

Melinda's Gardening How-To: Planting Bulbs

Plant bulbs now... for a fabulous spring!

    It’s time to think spring, spring flowering bulbs, that is. Fall is the time to plant tulips, daffodils, crocus and other spring flowering bulbs. Use these early bloomers to welcome spring to your landscape. You’ll appreciate the color and cheery blooms after another long winter passes. And this year, mix things up with new combinations, minor bulbs and new varieties.

Create Some Living Art and Winning Combinations

  • Use blue squills or grape hyacinths to create a floral river in a planting bed.
  • Plant several colors of tulips or hyacinths in wide rows to create a ribbon of color through the garden.
  • Plant white tulips with blue grape hyacinths. And if the deer eat the tulips you’ll still have the grape hyacinths to enjoy.
  • Combine yellow daffodils with blue squills. They are equally assertive, animal resistant, and long lived.
  • Plant hyacinths, tulips and daffodils together for added color, fragrance and form.
  • Use early, mid and late spring blooming tulips and daffodils to extend your enjoyment.
  • Make it easy and start with one of the prepackaged mixes.

Reduce Maintenance and Double Your Floral Display

  • Add a few pansies to the garden as you plant your bulbs. Cold weather pansies like Cool Wave will survive the winter. You’ll have beautiful blooms in fall and again in spring when your bulbs are blooming. Plus pansies help mask the fading bulb foliage.
  • Plant bulbs among your perennials. You can add more color, extend bloom time and mask the fading foliage.
    • Grape hyacinths planted in Epimedium groundcover
    • Summer blooming alliums with grasses and sedges
    • Autumn crocus (Colchicum) in bugleweed and other groundcovers

Try Something New

  • Try some early blooming small scale (minor) bulbs that are among the first plants to break through the ground and add color to the landscape
    • white snowdrops
    • yellow winter aconites
    • blue and white glory-of-the-snow
  • Add several different bold flowering alliums to the garden for spring, summer, and fall beauty.
  • Force some bulbs for indoor beauty or your outdoor containers and planters. Chill the bulbs at 35 to 45 degrees for 12 to 15 weeks

Planting Tips

  • Work compost, peat moss, or other organic matter into the garden bed before planting.
  • Wait until the soil is cool to plant your bulbs. This is usually after the first hard frost or when night temperatures average between 40° and 50°.
  • Plant in groups of at least 6 to 9 larger bulbs like tulips and daffodils and 15 to 20 smaller bulbs like squills and crocus for greater impact.
  • Plant bulbs 2 to 3 times their vertical height deep.
  • Check the label for spacing or plant the bulbs at least 2 to 3 times their diameter apart.
  • Mix a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer into the soil surface and water thoroughly.

Ongoing Care of Bulbs

  • Newly planted bulbs are putting down roots until the ground freezes. Water throughout fall when the top few inches of soil are dry.
  • Water bulbs thoroughly in spring when the soil is dry
  • Leave the leaves on the plant after bulbs finish blooming. They produce the energy needed for overwintering and next year’s blossoms.

Dealing with Hungry Animals

  • Avoid problems by planting animal resistant bulbs like
    • Hyacinths
    • Grape hyacinths
    • Squills
    • Glory-of-the-snow
    • Fritillaries
    • Alliums
    • Camassia
  • Use bulbs cages or cover the top and sides of bulb plantings with chicken wire. This helps discourage squirrels and other digging and bulb-eating animals.
  • Use repellents. Apply before the animals start feeding. It’s easier to keep them out than chase them away once they start feeding.

Break out the trowel and garden gloves and get busy planting. You’ll be glad you did when that first flower appears next spring. 

 

 

Written by gardening expert, Melinda Myers. Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience. She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Gardening How-To with you!