Have you planted your spring bulbs yet? Me neither? We need to get busy
Late October is the ideal time, but early November will do.
The goal is to get the bulbs in the ground before the ground freezes and give the bulbs twelve weeks of cool temperatures before sprouting in the springtime.
Some of the earliest bulbs to bloom in the spring are snowdrops, crocuses, muscari, and hyacinths. These are small bulbs and will produce small flowers but are often the first signs of the garden slowing coming to life after a long winter.
Because of their height, or lack of, I plant these bulbs towards the front edge of my garden. They are sweet blooms that appear early, often before the last snowfall.
Daffodils and some tulip varieties will be taller and bloom mid-spring. As the calendar moves deeper into spring, expect to see late tulips, lilies, dutch irises, and alliums bloom. These are taller flowers and can add height to spring gardens.
When you are ready to place your bulbs in the ground, think about your garden design. Do you want formal straight rows of daffodils and tulips or a naturalized appearance? No surprise, I opt for the natural look. I do have a basic planting plan, but I like the bulbs to appear as if they just happened upon that perfect spot to bloom.
Prepare the area for planting by loosening the soil. Make sure you plant the bulbs deep enough to protect them from the winter weather. A good rule is to place the bulbs three times as deep as the bulb’s height. If your bulb is 2 inches tall, put it 6 inches deep in the ground.
Place the root side down and the pointed end up. This will make it easy for the bulbs to take root and grow toward the warmth and sunshine when the time comes.
You can expect bulbs such as alliums, daffodils, and snowdrops to come back year after year. Others, such as hyacinths and tulips, bloom for a few years, gradually losing their strength. Add a few new bulbs into the mix to keep the garden vibrant and strong blooms appearing every year. Then as older bulbs die, the new ones will keep the color appearing each spring.
I really like tulips – so do my deer. I have learned not to plant them in the garden beds but save them for containers on my high deck which is out of reach of the deer and protected from the snow and wind. Oh, the squirrels can cause a mess but are foiled by netting or wire placed over the containers until the bulbs sprout.
This trick of placing chicken wire over newly planted bulbs also works for ground bulbs. Simply place the wire over the planted area. You may want to secure it with a few rocks or even a layer of mulch.
Be sure to remove it in the spring when the bulbs break ground. There is no need to make the bulbs work to grow through wire.
Thanks to generous friends and a fall birthday, I have several new varieties of bulbs to plant this fall. They include Leucojum Gravetye Giants or giant snowdrops, a double daffodil mixture, pink performance, and kiwi sunset daffodils.
I love alliums. The purple spheres are playful in the spring garden; after the color is gone, they make great dried stems to add to indoor bouquets. This year I will add graceful beauty, purple sensation, and Ambassador Alliums, whose bloom is 6-8 inches in diameter.
As with most things in the garden, hard work now will result in future rewards. I will place my bulbs in the ground before mid-November. I will also make notes about what I planted where so I can anticipate their springtime arrival. I’ve seen bulbs in most area garden centers. Treat yourself and maybe a friend to a handful – after a long winter, you will be glad to see the colors of spring.