This posting might be a bit late, but it is NOT to late to plant Spring Flowering Bulbs. As a matter of fact, being a bit late in the season, you will probably get them on sale, as compared to the people who bought then for full price, starting at the beginning of September. Bulbs can be planted until the ground freezes.
Fertilizing bulbs when planting ..First of all, bulbs that have been packaged for this Fall’s planting are filled with energy, and do not need fertilization. I have a friend that visited the tulip fields of Holland. He said, tulips that are grown for the Fall planting, are not allowed to produce a flower, the Spring before. A machine goes over them, and cuts off their heads, so all the energy goes into making a really healthy bulb, not flower production. The time to fertilize Spring Flowering Bulbs is when they emerge in the Spring. Use a granular time release all-purpose plant food like Epsoma Plant-Tone 5-3-3, Jonathan Green 5-10-5, or Pennington 6-10-6.
Bone Meal ..For as long as I can remember, people always talked about putting a big pinch of bone meal in the hole, then some soil, then placing the bulb, and covering it with soil.
You know, Bone Meal attracts moles, voles, mice, squirrels, and other rodents. They smell it, and go right for your bulbs. I remember once following the just mentioned planting method, AND the following Spring, all I had were holes where the bulbs had been planted. A friend had planted 300+ tulips, with bone meal, and got ONE, that following Spring.
About 15 years ago, one of my neighbors, a research doctor, at a local hospital, asked me if I used bone meal? I said yes. He said he had read something about bone meal, and mad cow’s disease. The premise was that if a cow had mad cow’s disease, and it’s bones were ground up, and turned into bone meal, a person could get the disease, if the dust were inhaled. The moisture of the lungs, could reactivate the dust, and the person would get the disease. Not knowing if this was really a TRUE thing, but being a bit afraid, I threw my bone meal away. Last Spring I was at a plant sale, and asked a man who sold bulbs, if he had heard anything about the just mentioned topic, and he said yes, but told me they were NOW sterilizing bone meal, and he thought it made is weaker. (So pertaining to bone meal usage, YOU be the judge).
Planting bulbs ..When planting Spring Flowering Bulbs, follow the directions for the planting DEPTH on the package, BUT not for spacing. All the bulb packages that I have ever looked at, want them spaced VERY close together. That is fine if you want to dig them up, after blooming, and replant the bulbs. If you want the bulbs to naturalize (make large clumps) you have to make room for “bulblets” (baby bulbs) production. When spacing bulbs, plant daffodils about one foot apart, in all directions. Six inches for grape hyacinths, and crocus, and eight inches for tulips (Darwin do best in reblooming). If your bulbs are not eaten, as Winter dinners, by rodents, in a few years, they will form nice colonies.
When planting bulbs, first lay them out on the ground, where you will be planting them. Try to plant the bulbs in groups. Let’s say you have 9 bulbs. Plant three rows of 3 bulbs, OR two rows of 5 and 4 together. Try to stagger the second row between the ones in the first row visually. Always plant bulbs pointed side up. If you don’t know which side is up, plant a bulb on its side. It will RIGHT itself as it grow. And finally, plant bulbs in the front to middle of your flower beds, and borders. Here at Whimsey Hill House, the back border is 14 feet to 16 feet deep. I have noticed that bulbs planted WAY BACK in the border seem to be less productive, and eventually die off. Tall perennials that grow up in front of them, block their ability to collect light (photosynthesis), which weakens the bulbs.
So tell me, are you, or have you planted Spring Flowering Bulbs this year? Have you read, or heard anything about bone meal and mad cow’s disease? I would love to hear from you!
Companion Posts…Tulips..Planting Fertilizing and Maintenance. 4-19-2011 , Daffodils..Planting, Fertilizing, and Maintenance. 4-8-2011 ,How to Plant (Design) a Garden. Mass versus Specimen Planting 2-17-2011