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September 13, 2023

Plant Bulbs Now For Spring Blooms

When the first crocuses appear in spring, some people proclaim it to be a miracle. Spring’s arrival may be a miracle, but the crocuses announced their arrival because someone planted the bulbs last fall, or a previous fall. Fall planting is necessary so that the roots can get established before the ground freezes.

Crocuses aren’t the only bulbs that have to be planted in fall if you want spring flowers. All spring flowering bulbs need to overwinter in the ground. Daffodils, tulips and hyacinths are the most popular. That’s why garden centers are stocking up on these bulbs now.

The bulbs we grow originated in different parts of the world. Crocuses come from the Alpine region of southern Europe. Daffodils are from the Mediterranean area. Tulips originally came from Turkey. Hyacinths got their start in the Middle East as well. Today, Holland has become the epicenter for bulb production, and this is where most of those you’ll find in garden centers were grown.

If you’ve grown bulb flowers before, you know that they naturalize and become perennials. However, a lot can happen from the time they bloomed last spring until they bloom again next spring. Some may die of old age. Others may become a critter’s dinner. Still others may succumb to weather extremes, such as torrential rain that drowned them. Critters are the only “enemy” that leaves tell tale signs. The soil will be disturbed around the area where they dug up the bulbs.

Did you notice any open spaces in your bulb garden(s) when they bloomed last year? If so you know where you have to fill in with new bulbs this fall. Next spring, be sure to check for any other spaces that need filling in next fall.

A good way to manage your bulbs garden is to draw a sketch of the plot, indicating the type of plant and color of flower. Then you’ll easily be able to buy replacement bulbs of the same or contrasting color. Large areas of same color bulbs result in a spectacular, colorful show to welcome spring. Even if you prefer a mix of colors, planting many bulbs in a large bed is a more attractive display than scattering them so that they grow singly or in small groupings.  

Most garden centers sell bulbs both prepackaged and loose. If you’re planting a new bulb garden this fall, packages may be more convenient. If you’re buying bulbs for fill in, those sold in bulk may be better. You can buy only as many as you need, although it might be a good idea to have a few extra on hand. Be sure you separate the colors when buying in bulk.

Bulbs are easy to plant and maintain. When you plant them, dig the hole twice as deep as the length of the bulb. Bulb planters are nice, but you don’t really need one. Just plunge a trowel into the soil to the proper depth and pull it to you. Place the bulb in the hole root end down, pointy end up. Then remove the trowel and make sure the hole seals up. Bulbs have plenty of nutrition in them, so they don’t need fertilizer.

After your bulbs finish blooming next spring, it’s OK to cut off the spent flowers. This isn’t deadheading. A new flush won’t grow this season. Be sure to keep the green foliage intact to make food through photosynthesis. This food will be stored in the bulb to sustain the plant through the winter and next spring’s reawakening. Leaves can be removed when they turn yellow, and the bulbs would appreciate fertilizer being scattered around the bed next fall. Mulching the bed’s, a good idea, too.

Planting bulbs in fall provides you with a beautiful display to anticipate next spring. These colorful plants are relatively inexpensive, enabling you to plant sufficient flowers for a spectacular view. Best of all, they’re easy to plant and low maintenance. What can be better!