If you like to be awakened from your winter doldrums with colorful, refreshing crocus, daffodil, tulip and hyacinth blooms, you need to plant them now, unless you already have them in the ground from previous years.
Bulbs need to be planted in fall in order to bloom the next spring. Finding just the right spring color and variety at this time of year is easy. All the garden centers feature spring bulbs, and many offer special prices.
As with all gardens and landscapes, it’s best to plan before you plant. Random planting can yield some “interesting” results, while planning bulb placement will assure you of an attractive display. Most bulb packaging has colorful photos of the plant in bloom, so you can decide on the color and number of that variety that you want in your garden.
You can plot the plantings on paper first or you can just start by placing the bulbs on the soil surface where you want to plant them. Be sure to plan your bulb garden so that the lower growing plants like crocuses and mini-daffodils are in front, the tall tulips are in back and the medium size plants like daffodils and hyacinths are in the middle. Be sure that the colors are compatible, too.
Bulb planting is easy. All you really need is a trowel, although garden stores have fancy bulb planting tools. Just thrust your trowel into the ground and pull it back toward you until you have a hole about the diameter of the bulb and twice as deep as the length of the bulb. If the bulb is three inches long, the hole should be six inches deep. Just drop the bulb into the hole and backfill.
Be sure to plant the bulb right side up. The root side with small hair roots goes in the bottom of the hole. After backfilling, tamp the area lightly to eliminate air pockets and then give the newly planted bulbs a nice drink of water.
Don’t put any fertilizer in the planting hole. The bulb itself is made up almost entirely of starch, enough to provide the new plant with sufficient food until it leafs out and begins photosynthesizing – making its own food.
After your bulbs have flowered next spring, it’s OK to cut off spent flowers, but not green leaves. The leaves are needed to continue making food through photosynthesis. The leaves can be trimmed off when they turn brown.
Bulbs can be planted right up until the ground freezes, but we never know when, or if, the ground will freeze. Instead of panicking at the last minute, buy your bulbs now and store them in a nice cool place. When we have a nice, fall day, pull them out and plant them. Then you can enjoy the winter confident that these harbingers of spring will delight you with beauty and color as winter begins to break its hold on us.