Bulbs often get overlooked in my garden. I think it may have something to do with being patient, or not, as in my case. You plant them in the Fall and don’t get the full benefit of them until Spring. But there is no flower quite like the happy daffodil or one that summons Spring like tulips. I live too much for instant gratification, which is an oxymoron as a gardener. Patience is a virtue in the world of bulbs. So, if you are like me and are wanting to expand your bulb-planting horizons, I have a few tips that may help you along the way.
- SELECTION: When purchasing, select large bulbs that feel firm and solid. No gouges, mold, or soft spots.
- CHILL: Tulips and hyacinths need to be chilled for 6 to 8 weeks before planting. Avoid storage near ripening fruit, such as apples, which give off ethylene gas that can deteriorate the bulbs.
- STEPS FOR PLANTING:
- Soil should be well-draining to prevent bulbs from rotting. If necessary, amend the soil with compost.
- Dig to a depth approximately three times the height of the bulb. For mass planting, it’s easier to dig out an entire area than to dig individual holes. Smooth the soil at the bottom of the hole and add a fertilizer with a high phosphorus content for a strong root system.
- Place bulb(s), pointed end up, in the hole so that make good contact with the soil and are not touching each other. As a rule, it is better to plant too deep than too shallow so that bulbs multiply less rapidly., delaying the day when they become overcrowded and must be dug up and transplanted.
- Cover the bulbs with soil and water in well. When shoots begin to emerge, put on another application of a complete fertilizer. BOOM. Done. Now all you have to do is sitback and wait for the sunny days of Spring.
- BULBS IN CONTAINERS: This is possibly the easiest way to plant bulbs. Grab an empty pot and follow the same steps as above, using an organic potting soil. If you are looking to prolong the bloom time, plant different bulbs in successive layers.
In a large pot with a drainage hole in the bottom, add a layer of potting soil at least 2 inches deep. Mix it with a little fertilizer. Arrange a layer of daffodils and/or tulips close together but not touching. Cover them completely with more potting soil. Add a layer of hyacinths or Dutch iris and cover with more soil. Smaller bulbs, such as muscari or crocus may be planted in the last layer near the top. Add the soil to the rim of the pot and water thoroughly until soil is saturated. This will settle the soil and bulbs. When Spring arrives, you will have a succession of blooms over a long period of time. After they have bloomed, place the pot in a cool, less prominent place in the garden for storage.
I hope this encourages you to start the tradition of bulb planting! With Thanksgiving break this coming week, it’s the perfect time to get your kids involved and let them help in the selection and planting of the bulbs ( And a lesson in delayed gratification 😉 So, round up your empty pots and make a trip to your local garden center. Plant and forget about them until you are rewarded with their beauty in the Spring. Happy Planting!