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Like Spring Flowers? Plant Bulbs Now

Although this winter is predicted to be milder than last year, I’ll still enjoy seeing the little crocus flowers poking their heads up through the snow, grass or wherever this spring. This is the signal that spring is on the way. These flowers are probably more reliable than groundhogs, too.

Following crocus’ debut, daffodils, tulips and hyacinths emerge to display their festive fare right on cue. That is, if you planted the bulbs from which these flowers now grow, the previous fall.

In the late summer, garden centers set up elaborate bulb displays. These are colorfully illustrated so you know what you are buying, including the height and the color of the flowers. Some come in packages containing a variety of bloom colors. They also sell individual bulbs so you can make your own color choices. Some people like a rainbow effect while others like a single color. You can definitely have it your way!

Planting bulbs is easy. All you really need is a trowel, although garden stores also 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 (flat 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.

I recommend buying your bulbs as soon as garden stores start advertising them. You can keep them in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to plant. Bulbs can be planted right up until the ground freezes, so you can wait for a nice, fall day to 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.

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