Ever wonder how spring flowering bulbs like crocus, daffodils and tulips get the energy to wake up and flower so early in the spring? They go to bed with a full “stomach” before the other flowers do.
For this to happen, though, you have to plant bulbs in the fall. Those nice, fat bulbs are loaded with starch, the food that powers plants. And they’re all ready to go dormant as soon as the soil temperature tells them that winter is right around the corner. Meanwhile, they become acclimated to their new environment.
Then, come early spring, the bulbs are well nourished, well rested and ready to begin poking their heads above the ground. Crocuses, for example, wake up so early that they often begin poking their heads up through the snow. Crocus’ short stature and early blooming schedule give you more planting flexibility than taller bulb plants that bloom later.
You can even plant crocuses in the lawn. They should be finished blooming by the time you need to start mowing. If they’re still in bloom when you need to mow, they are short enough to not get cut off by the mower blades if the blades are set at the recommended three-inches.
Spring flowering bulbs are arriving at area garden stores now. They are packaged in bags and boxes in a wide assortment of bloom colors, and are also sold individually in bulk. You’ll be happier if you decide on how many bulbs you need and in what colors before you go to the garden store. Take the plot plan, color list and quantity with you so you can refer to them when making your selections.
When making your plot plan, remember that bulbs look best in mass plantings, rather than just individual plants. Bulbs are affordable enough that you can put on a spectacular show.
You can plant your bulbs as soon as you bring them home. Lay the bulbs on the ground where you want them to grow. When you’re satisfied that they are in the right place, plant them by plunging a trowel into the soil and pulling it toward you. If you have one of those fancy bulb diggers, by all means use it.
The hole should be about the width of the bulb and twice as deep as the bulb’s length. Drop the bulb into the hole right side up. The top is pointed and the bottom has visible root hairs. Backfill, tamp the soil down lightly and water well to get rid of any air pockets.
Don’t worry about fertilizing the first year. The bulb is made up almost entirely of starch. This is enough to provide the new plant with sufficient food until it leafs out and begins making its own food through photosynthesis.
With your bulbs planted this fall, you can go about your fall and winter life and forget all about them until that first crocus makes its quiet appearance in spring.