Planting Spring Bulbs in the Fall
Fall is the time to plant spring flowering bulbs to ensure that you have a beautiful display of spring flowers in the spring. If you have never planted spring bulbs before there are a few basic tips to keep in mind. Although you may think bulbs are difficult to grow, it is actually not as hard as you may think to produce a fantastic spring garden.
A good healthy bulb should be firm, with a uniform unblemished surface. Normally bulbs are covered with a brown skin, similar to an onion skin. The bulb has a unique shape. Most are slightly pointed at the top of the bulb with a flatter area at the base of the bulb. They come in a variety of sizes depending on the type of flower you are hoping to grow. For example, crocus bulbs are smaller than a tulip or a hyacinth bulb. For this reason, it is better to look at the condition of the bulb, not the size, when looking for a healthy bulb. Don’t buy bulbs that are wrinkled, shrunken, moldy or soft to the touch.
When choosing a place to plant your spring bulb keep in mind that the bulbs are going to bloom when the weather is still cool and you are not necessarily sitting outside in your garden. The best places to plant bulbs are places that can be seen from inside your house, through a kitchen window, or in your front garden where you can enjoy them when you are coming and going. Most bulbs like full sun. Since these are bulbs that are going to flower in early spring, this will be most places in your yard even if you have a lot of trees, because they will flower before the trees are in full leaf. Under evergreen trees or heavily shaded areas that don’t get sun, no matter what the season, are not good locations for bulbs. Remember, also, that the leaves remain for a time after the bulb has finished flowering. When you begin to plant your annuals you may find the leaves are in the way, so choose your locations wisely.
Bulbs need to be planted in the fall before the ground freezes. A good time to plant is before the middle November in most areas that get a cold winter. Plant your bulbs early enough for their roots to get established before the harsh winter temperatures. Dig a hole three times the size of the bulb. If you normally amend your soil when planting other materials, do the same for bulb planting. A little bone meal and some compost will help your bulbs grow strong. Plant the bulb with the pointed top up. Pat the soil around the bulb down firmly to make sure there are no air pockets around the roots and water it well. If you find the soil has sunk after watering, top it up. If you have a lot of squirrels in your garden you may need to cover the planting area with chicken wire to keep the squirrels from digging the bulbs up and eating them. Once your bulbs have finished flowering in the spring cut the flowers stems off, but the leaves should be left to feed the bulb for the next season.