Bulb Basics

Martha Stewart
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Follow these steps to ensure a spectacular flower display that offers years of beauty and enjoyment.

Planting a bulb.

Buying


Order your bulbs from a reputable supplier, and check with the seller that what you are ordering will provide the desired effect (for example, a good bloom sequence).

Readying the Bed

Prepare the bed to be planted before the bulbs arrive. Dig into the soil with a trowel, and pull the trowel toward you to create a hole slightly deeper than your desired planting depth. (In warmer areas, plant small bulbs three inches deep and larger bulbs six inches deep; in colder areas, plant small bulbs five inches deep and larger bulbs eight inches deep.) Incorporate composted material and bulb food for added nutrients.

Planting

Plant on a cool day when the earth is slightly damp but still friable. Bulbs need soil that drains well. Don’t try to plant in mud or ultra-dry earth. Enlist the help of a friend so that the entire area can be planted on the same day to ensure a unified look and proper density of planting.

Watering

Once planted, top the bed with a thin layer of rich compost, and water the area well.

Companion plants

If adding ground covers or perennials such as hellebores, do so while planting the bulbs to avoid disturbing the bed later.

Waves of Blue

When massed together, these six species of miniature spring bulbs make a grand statement over a period of six to eight weeks.

  1. Grecian Windflower (Anemone blanda): Scores of daisy-like flowers pop up in early to mid-spring. Soak the dry tubers overnight in water before planting them.
  2. Glory of-the-Snow (Chionodoxa luciliae): White starlike centers accent each pristine pale-blue flower.
  3. Grape Hyacinth (Muscari ‘Valerie Finnis’): This vigorous variety is the palest blue of its family.
  4. Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica): Tiny multi-stemmed flowers of electric blue sit atop thick, glossy leaves.
  5. Woodland Crocus (C. tommasinianus): Lilac-blue trumpets open best in full sun, so keep that in mind when planting these eager naturalizers.
  6. Grape hyacinth (M. latifolium): Eccentric and sturdy two-tone blue-black flowers stay upright for a longer period than their cousins.

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