Flower bulbs are always a big deal come fall. It’s the last little bit of gardening left to do before the freezing cold temperatures, flying snow, and plants go dormant. We love planting bulbs because when the first one blooms it helps usher in the first signs of spring each year. The crocus or snowdrops start poking up out of the seemingly empty garden. The real magic comes from the fact that there’s so little work involved in creating this delight, and what a great way to get us inspired for the coming season! Here’s how easy it is to plant and choose the right bulbs for your garden.
Choosing the Right Flowering Bulbs
There are a lot of flowering bulbs out there and it’s very easy to get carried away. There are 2 factors you should consider when looking at flower bulbs—when do you want them to bloom and what’s my garden design?
With the wide variety of flower bulbs, it’s important to choose wisely. Selecting a large assortment of bulbs that bloom at different times during the season will ensure you are getting a color show all spring and summer long!
Flower Bulbs are generally classified as early, mid, and late blooming. Early bloomers will generally start in February and last until March. If you are looking for early bloomers, snowdrops, scilla, crocus, dwarf iris and chionodoxa are going to be your best bet. Mid bloomers will start in April and go through May. Daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths are all examples of mid blooming bulbs. However, daffodils and tulips have a broad range of bloom times, so look for the Early/Mid/Late label on all our daffodils and tulips. Late bloomers start in June and will go until they can’t anymore.
Planning your garden
Planning your bulb garden design is important in having a successful flower garden in the spring. Combining early/mid/late bulbs to ensure you get succession blooming that lasts all season is important. That way you won’t have a single burst of color and then nothing until next season.
Paying attention to how tall your flowers will grow is important in determining where you should plant them. You don’t want to plant a bunch of bulbs and they will never grow above the shrub in front of them or plant a bunch of tall daffodils that hide the smaller tulips you planted with them.
Creating a plan that includes details like color, height and bloom time helps you determine what your garden will look like all year long. The big key is to have fun. Try planting different varieties of tulips or mix thing up with a combination of bulb types, the possibilities are endless.
Now that you have a plan and you’ve picked out your bulbs it’s time to get planting—sort of. The first rule of planting bulbs is you want to make sure the ground is nice and cool. Planting when nighttime temperatures range from 40 – 60° F or a month before the first frost is a perfect time.
Soil is key in determining the success of any bulb. You’ll want a soil that drains water and moisture well because if you don’t it’s possible to rot the bulbs. Start with loosening your soil and removing rocks, sticks and other unwanted material. Then you’ll want to improve the soil by working in organic material like peat moss or compost. If you have a lot of bulbs to plant it may be easier to dig a trench, if not digging individual holes works just as well.
Most bulbs need to have a sunny location so take this in consideration when you are planting. Take care when planting near other trees or shrubs as when they start growing leaves it may block the much-needed sun.
When planting your bulbs make sure to read how deep you are supposed to plant them. Generally planting the bulbs as deep as three times the diameter of the bulb is a best practice. Spacing is also important and spacing larger bulbs 3 to 10 inches apart and smaller ones 1 to 2 inches apart. You won’t want to over crowd them, and they will compete for water and nutrients. Make sure the pointed end is face up. If the pointed end isn’t obvious simply plant the bulb on its side.
Fertilizing your bulbs is an often-overlooked step that can help ensure the success of your flowers. Adding bulb food about 1 inch below the bulb helps establish those roots before the ground freezes and the bulb goes dormant.
Finally, after planting, water your bulbs thoroughly. If you are looking for more info check out our Fall Bulb Planting Guide. If you have any questions stop in or share with us on Instagram or Facebook and tag @cityfloralgardencenter or in the comments below!