Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tips for Planting Spring Blooming Bulbs

"Clean and round,

Heavy and sound,

Inside every bulb a flower is found."
Old Poem
I don't know how it happens but each autumn time magically slips by for me and before I know it, it's November and I still have garden chores to complete before the snow falls - like planting bulbs. And of course, this autumn is no different even when I promised myself I would be proactive. But between family events, attending the GWA symposium and having other commitments on those sunny warm days, the days I am free to get the chores done - it is miserable, cold and pouring down rain. So here sits my bowl full of bulbs still waiting to be planted and again today the weather has not co-operated but I did hear that the sun is to shine tomorrow afternoon.
Planting spring blooming bulbs in the fall is important so that you can be greeted with colour after 5 to 6 months of winter's white. There is just something magically about seeing the bulbs burst forth as the snow begins to melt brightening up the spring landscape. Here are just a few tips to ensure your bulbs bloom successfully next spring:
1. Make sure the soil has good drainage - sandy loam is best. Bulbs dislike damp soils that may be waterlogged come spring as your bulbs will rot and all your hard work will be for naught.
2. Bulbs look best when clustered together in mass plantings as opposed to planting one here and one there. This is especially important for the small bulbs like Muscari and Squill.
3. Your bulbs will benefit from a little bone meal, bulb booster, or compost mixed into the soil at the bottom of the planting hole.
4. Remember to plant your bulbs at a depth of 2 to 3 times the diameter of the bulb with the roots down and the growing tip up. For any bulbs in which you cannot determine the root end, plant them on their side and the stem will find its way up to the soil surface.
5. Once your bulbs bloom next spring, leave the foliage to die back naturally before cutting back. This will alow the plant to divert energy back into the bulb so it can bloom for you the next year. This goes for naturalized plants in lawns too - let the foliage die down before mowing.
6. If you are blessed with an abundance of squirrels as I am you may have trouble keeping your bulbs in the ground. Some say that squirrels dislike Daffodils - so plant more of these or you may want to try one of the commercial squirrel repellent products.
Take heart, if the ground is not yet frozen and there are still a few weeks in which your bulbs can set some roots you still have time to plant a few spring blooming bulbs. You may wonder as your fingers are freezing setting the bulbs but you will be visually and spiritually rewarded next spring.
Happy planting!

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