Friday, September 17, 2010

Planting Bulbs

Fall is here...
...and that means it’s time to start planting bulbs. Here is a sampling of bulbs that will look wonderful in your spring garden. Although there are dozens of types of bulbs, some classified as corms, tubers and rhizomes, I’m only going to concentrate here on the most popular and easiest to grow bulbs. Also I would suggest before you pop that bulb in it’s hole that you toss in a small handful of a “Bulb Booster” which you can find at most hardware stores. It’s certainly not required but as the name implies, it’ll give your bulbs a boost in the spring. A helpful hint...if you want that "natural" look of a mass of any bulb...toss a handful in the air and plant where they fall.

Daffodils (Narcissus) - Always a favorite and as with most bulbs, they multiply year after year, which is called naturalizing. Deer don’t like Daffodils so that’s a plus too. The negatives of Daffodils to me, is their the spring after they finish blooming, their foliage lingers on for a long time and that can make your garden look messy. What I suggest is planting Daffodils near plants whose foliage will come up after the Daffodils have bloomed and hide the foliage... hostas, astilbes, ferns and peonies are great to hide the foliage. If that’s not possible, I suggest you draw up the foliage and tie it off, either with a rubber band, piece of string or by tying the foliage into a knot. It’s important, with any bulb, not to trim off their foliage before it ripens and dies...that foliage is key to what feeds and nourishes the bulb for the next season. Plant 6 to 7 inches deep pointed side up, 1 to 3 inches apart.

Tulips (Tulipa)- Also known as deer candy,  if deer are present in your yard, I don’t suggest Tulips, unless you spray because they LOVE them. I take a chance and plant some but closer to the house and in the back of a garden where it’s harder to reach. If you do plant Tulips, look for varieties that bloom at different times during the spring so you have a long lasting display. Plant 8 inches deep, pointed side up. Tulips can be thickly planted with no ill effect on bloom size and close spacing enhances their impact.

Allium (Flowering onion) - Allium are lovely in the spring garden, producing showy 2 to 12 inch in diameter flower clusters rising on a single stalk. Alliums are sun lovers and most critters avoid this group, so you can plant with no worries. Plant to a depth of 6 to 8 inches depending on size of bulb.

Crocus (Crocus) - Delicate bowls of color in an otherwise drab landscape, these are the heralds of spring, one of the first plants to bloom in the garden. They are a sure sign that spring is on the way. Technically these are corms not bulbs but don’t worry about that. Plant them 3 to 4 inches deep in small groups.

Snowdrops (Galanthus) - Along with Crocuses nothing is more anticipated than the appearance of the first Snowdrops. Sometimes fragrant, these appear to be tiny bells on a graceful arching grass-like stem. Perfect for naturalizing in both sunny and shady locations. Plant these 4 inches deep, they do best when left undisturbed to form large clumps. I love them at the base of a stone wall.

Grape Hyacinths (Muscari) - Best when used as an edging plant, these are one of my Crocuses, they are the staple for any spring garden. Small and compact, they thrive in sun or shade and tolerate practically any soil. Ideal partners with taller bulbs like daffodils and tulips. Most commonly, the color is in various shades of  blue, they are also available in white. I think nothing is more charming than a bunch of Grape Hyacinths in a small vase. Their grass-like foliage disappears during the summer and reappears in the fall, making them the perfect plant to mark where you’ve planted other bulbs. Plant the bulbs to a depth of 2 to 3 inches deep.

Reliable resources to order bulbs:

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