As the days get shorter, and the gardening season starts to come to an end, it is now time to think New Beginnings. Your new beginnings will be flower filledif you take some time now and plant some Spring flowering bulbs.
The Classic (most known and loved) Spring flowering bulbs are Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths, Grape Hyacinths, and Crocus. Other Spring bulbs to look into, and possibly plant are Allium, Snow Drops, Scilla, and Fritillaria.
Tulips and Daffodils come in many colors, shapes of flowers, and blooming times. These two bulbs can be early, mid-season and late Spring bloomers. Years ago, someone from the Fort Orange Club in Albany, NY inter-planted two varieties of tulips from different blooming periods. The tulips planted, started out with a variety that was red with touches of yellow. The spectacular display in front of the club then turned into, and ended with a showing of yellow tulips with touches of red. The transition from red with yellow, to yellow with red went completely smooth, looking as if the same tulips changed colors.
Purchasing Spring Flowering Bulbs ..Spring flowering bulbs can be purchased at Big Box Discount and Hardware stores with garden centers like Wal-Mart, K-mart, Home Depot and Lowe’s. They will sell a nice variety of classics, and some unusual ones. Your local Garden Center will have an even larger amount of bulb varieties to choose from. If you want the odd and unusual, and don’t mind paying for shipping, Mail Order is the way to go. Over the years, I have purchased bulbs all ways, and had success with product wherever I purchased it.
When buying Spring flowering bulbs, Bigger is Better, and firm and meaty is an ideal. Never buy anything that looks / feels soft, is mushy or dried up.
Planting Spring Flowering Bulbs ..Many bulbs that are grown for the Fall planting period are not allowed to bloom the Spring before they are shipped. I have friends that visited the tulip fields of Holland in Spring, and they told me machines went over the plants and cut off their heads, directing all the energy into making a bigger / healthier bulb for you to buy, not flower production.
With all the energy already encapsulated in the Spring flowering bulb, there is no need for any kind of supplementary feeding at the time of bulb planting. Too many people use bone meal as a plant fertilizer and get horrible results. Bone meal, you know is a rodent attractor. Moles, voles, mice, chipmunks, squirrels, and possibly dogs will smell the bone meal and be attracted to your bulbs and eat them. Years ago I planted many bulbs, with a pinch of bone meal put into each hole. The following Spring I had holes where the bulbs once were. Vermin had eaten everything. A lady I know planted 300 tulip bulbs with bone meal, and the following Spring just one emerged. Everything was gone.
Feed Spring flowering bulbs in early Spring, when they start to emerge from the soil. Use an all purpose granular time release plant food like Epsoma Plant-Tone 5-3-3, Pennington 6-10-6, or Jonathan Green 5-10-5. No need to scratch it in, just broadcast / toss/ sprinkle it around plants in your garden, Spring rains will work in into the soil for you.
There is a difference between Mass Planting of Spring bulbs in public spaces, and what you do in your own private garden. In public gardens, bulbs are planted close together for visual impact. After they finish blooming, they are dug up and discarded. In your home garden, you want to space your bulbs out more, if you want to leave them in place for years to come. When planting your Spring flowering bulbs, plant them at the suggested depth on the package. When it comes to spacing, spread them out further than what is suggested. If they say space something 3 to 4 inches apart, space them 6 to 8 inches apart instead. Give your bulbs space to multiply. If you want your bulbs to hopefully form colonies / naturalize, you have to provide space for the bulbs to expand.
Planting your Bulbs ..The first thing you should do, before digging a single hole, is to lay our your bulbs in the area where you want to plant them. That way you can see if you like how you spaced them, and it gives you a chance to move them around a bit, if you feel your grouping is not right.
When laying out your bulbs, site 3, 5, 7, etc of the same variety in an area. That way you will have a nice clump of the same colored flowers to look at in the Spring. Don’t plant one bulb here, and then one bulb there, from another variety. If you have space, try to plant the same variety of bulb in multiple places in your garden. The multiple planting will move the eye along from one space to the next.
I’m not a person who believes you need too many gardening tools. Plant your bulbs with a gardening trowel. No fancy bulb planting device is needed. Here as Whimsey Hill House I planted over one thousand daffodil bulbs, over a two-year period, and just used a narrow shaped trowel to dig.
So there you have it, Spring Flowering Bulb Planting 101. No one says you have to plant many bulbs. Just plant a few and see what happens next Spring.
To learn a lot more about Spring flowering bulbs, read my Companion Posts Tulips..Planting, Fertilizing and Maintenance 4-19-2011 , 4-8-2011 ,How to Plant (design) a Garden. Mass versus Specimen Planting 2-17-2011, Daffodils..Planting, Fertilizing and Maintenance 4-8-2011