Bulbs are a wonderful addition to any yard or garden. Once planted, bulbs take little care and are a surprise when they pop up and take on life and color. For those who live in the colder northern areas the first Crocus that pops through the snow is a welcome sign of spring.
Fall is a perfect time to buy or order bulbs and many are on sale. By surfing the web or picking up a few gardening magazines you can get an idea of what bulbs will do well in you area and purchase them now before the selection has been picked over.
If necessary, you may want to chill the bulbs such as tulips and hyacinths (which need a certain amount of cold weather to bloom properly) by storing them in the refrigerator for six to eight weeks before planting. In my area this is not necessary but in the southern USA you may need to take this step.
Choose the area for your bulbs and work the ground. I like to improve the soil by adding organic matter. Leaves, compost and mulch are my choices. Soil preparation is not always necessary as long as drainage is good and the soil has not been overused for gardening.
How to plant bulbs outdoors
With a shovel or trowel, dig holes the appropriate depth for your bulb type. The package the bulbs were packed in or catalogs on bulbs will help you determine the proper planting depth.
A rule of thumb is to plant the bulb a depth of two to three times the width of the bulb.
Add bulb fertilizer to the bottom of the hole when planting and roughly mix it into the soil. If you don’t buy premixed bulb fertilizer you can use compost.
Place the bulb in the hole and make sure you have the right side up (usually point up, roots down). The bottom of the bulb should rest firmly on the bottom of the hole.
There are a few bulbs that it is hard to determine the top from the bottom. When this happens, I plant them on their sides. They will still grow.
Refill the planting hole and tamp the soil lightly. Water the bulbs thoroughly.
I watch to make sure I don’t have small animals dig up the bulbs. Tip: If you have squirrels, plant your bulbs in a bucket that has no bottom or in a wire cage. The plants can grow out of the wire but the squirrels will have a difficult time eating the bulbs.
Many bulbs do well under deciduous trees in the spring. They will bloom before the tree leaves out and creates too much shade and the tree will help you find the bulbs before they grow.
Bulbs can grow easily in pots and containers. By growing bubs in container you can move them indoors or outdoors, add color early in the spring and protect bulbs if you have squirrel or deer damage problems.
There are also many exotic bulbs and tropical bulbs that will add color and fragrance to your home in the winter months.
For more information on bulbs check out the spring bulb article on Best Flower Gardening.
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