September 30, 2009
September comes to a close, yet it is time to think of spring. If you want to plant tulip and daffodil bulbs, they must be planted in the fall. These bulbs, along with most of the other spring flowering bulbs, need to be planted in the fall or they will not flower if they are planted in the spring. The reason for this is that the bulbs need to develop a root system in the cool soil temperatures of the fall. The bulbs then need a period of cold, even freezing soil temperatures. As the soil temperatures warm in the spring, the bulb reacts and begins to produce leaves and eventually a flower. If the bulbs don’t have time to root, or if they do not get exposed to the prolonged cold soil temperatures, they will not flower properly. What this means is, if you want to plant the bulbs of tulips, daffodils, narcissus, crocus, hyacinth and other spring flowering bulbs, it is time to get busy.
When you plant your bulbs, the idea is to get a flowering display that adds some pop to your gardens. You cannot achieve this effect by planting single bulbs in either a row or by planting a scattering of single bulbs in your garden. If you think of all of the pictures of tulips in bloom that you have seen, it is always a mass planting of bulbs that you see. Your eyes are drawn to that mass display of color. If you have a few thousand dollars to spend on bulbs to create a mass display, come see me at the store. I would love to sell you a thousand dollars worth of bulbs. On the other hand, you don’t have to spend that kind of money to have a nice display of spring flowering bulbs in your gardens. The secret to having a nice display of bulbs is to plant the bulbs in clusters. It also makes it easier for you to plant the bulbs. Here is what you need to do to create a nice display of spring flowering bulbs.
Tulip bulbs come in different varieties that flower at different times of the spring. They also come in varieties that grow to different heights. As a general rule of thumb, the earlier the tulip flowers, the shorter the height of the flowers. The reason that I bring this up is that you don’t want to have the flowers of one type of bulb overshadowing any other flower. If you look on the package of bulbs, it will tell you the ultimate height of the flower and it will tell you the time in the spring when the flower will appear. This time will vary depending on the type of bulb that you plant. With this knowledge, you can set out clusters of bulbs that will flower at a specific time frame and will be of a height that allows you to plant taller flowers in the back of the garden and shorter flowers in the front. This may be a bit confusing, but if you stop by the store, any of us working there can explain it in more detail to you.
When you are ready to plant the bulbs, you need to dig a hole 1 foot in diameter. The package of bulbs will tell you how deep the hole needs to be. Some bulbs are planted 2 inches deep and some as much as 6 inches deep. Once the hole is dug to the proper width and depth, you want to add some bulb fertilizer and mix it into the soil at the bottom of the hole. This fertilizer will help in the formation of a strong root system. Squirrels and other animals looking for food can dig up bulbs. Sprinkle some animal repellent in the bottom of the hole. Depending on the type of bulb you are planting, you will need to place 5 to 10 bulbs in the bottom of the hole. You would plant 5 tulip or daffodil bulbs or 10 crocus or other small sized bulbs. Cover the bulbs with soil and then water the soil. Once the soil has dried a bit, sprinkle some animal repellent onto the surface of the soil to discourage digging. Once the soil has packed on the surface, the critters won’t be digging any more. It may take a week or so for the soil to pack sufficiently to discourage digging. The holes that you dig should be about a foot to 18 inches apart. You can space them farther apart and still get a nice effect. By planting the bulbs in clusters, your eyes will see the mass of color when the bulbs come into color and your eyes won’t even initially see the space between the clusters. Just remember to plant the bulbs so that the taller flowering bulbs won’t over shadow the shorter flowering bulbs.
That in a nutshell is how you need to plant your spring flowering bulbs. Now is the time to plant these bulbs. We have a good selection of bulbs in the store and you will find a larger selection of bulbs on our web site www. harborgardens.com. The bulbs shown on our web site are shipped direct to you from a bulb storage facility. You do need to order those bulbs online.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.