October 7, 2013

Plant spring-flowering bulbs now

As our flower gardens begin to fade, and we say a sad goodbye to the colors that have delighted us for the past few months, it’s time to think about planting spring-flowering bulbs. 

Spring-flowering bulbs are planted in the fall because they need long periods of cool temperatures to activate the biochemical process that causes them to flower. They also need time to establish a root system before the ground freezes.

Bulbs are priced by size. For instance, daffodil bulbs come not only in a number of varieties, but also a number of sizes. Generally, the larger the bulb, the more mature it is, and the more likely to produce large flowers. It is also more expensive than a smaller bulb that will produce lovely flowers but may take a year or two to rival the size. 

If you purchase bulbs early in order to have a better selection to choose from, store the bulbs in a cool, dry location away from direct sunlight until planting time.

Bulbs should be planted in a sunny location with good drainage. Early blooming varieties can be planted under trees as long as they will bloom before the tree leafs out and creates too much shade. Planting bulbs in clusters results in a more dramatic result than single bulbs planted here and there. Planting in a triangular shape with the point toward the front of the bed and the opposite, longer edge at the back of the bed creates the illusion of a greater number of flowers than there actually are.

Since you will be leaving the greens in place after the flowers are gone, you want to plant bulbs where your perennials will obscure the greens as they die back. Planting annuals in front of the drying greens will have the same shielding effect. Leaving the greens on until they die back is critical as it allows the bulb to gather what it needs for the following year’s blooms.

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