Monday, August 31, 2009

Fall Garden Tips: Planning for Spring

There is only one real deprivation, I decided this morning, and that is not to be able to give one's gifts to those one loves most. ~May Sarton

Autumn is bulb time and besides working your soil, planting at the correct depth for each is one of the most important things you can do for a good spring bloom. There is one other important detail though: plant the bulb with the "tip" facing up. If you look at each bulb you can tell that one end is more flattened. That is where the roots grow from-- the other end is where the flower stem will sprout from in the spring. When you purchase bulbs they all come with planting directions, but as a general rule you should plant them about 2 1/2 times the length of the bulb. If your soil is sandy or very loose you can go deeper.

A general guideline for planting common bulbs is:
Hyacinths: 6-8 inches
Tulips: 4-6 inches
Daffodils: 3-4 inches
Crocus: 1-2 inches

Usually it's best to plant bulbs when the temperatures fall below 60 degrees. That varies depending on where you live, so some of you have more time for your planning. When choosing places to plant your bulbs consider that when they pop up the trees will not have their leaves and the perennials won't be out yet, which means some normally shady spots will be sunny. Most bulbs like some afternoon shade and a fertile soil that is well drained.

Don't plant your bulbs next to a heated basement or wall where they will be warmer than normal. This could mess with the timing on the blooms. Cover the bulbs with a 2-3 inch layer of mulch such as wood chips, bark or peat moss. Remove this in late winter or early spring.

I've had the best success with daffodils for a couple of reasons: rodents don't like them and they can adapt to most soils. The only time I've had them not do well are when the soil was super dry AND next to tree roots. Otherwise they grow and multiply with ease.

We have tips on growing crocus, which is also an easy to grow bulb:


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