Planting Spring Flowering Bulbs

P. Allen Smith
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daffodils, P. Allen Smith

I think even the most experienced gardener likes a sure thing and if you’re a betting person, in the world of gardening it doesn’t get much safer than bulbs. Whether you’re an expert or a beginner, you can always depend on these guys to perform beautifully in the spring.  

Fall is the time to get them in the ground and there seems to be a bulb for everyone’s taste, everything from the classic tulip to the grape hyacinth to the delicate dwarf daffodil. Here are a few bulb planting basics to get your spring bulb garden started.

WHEN TO PLANT SPRING FLOWERING BULBS

Plant spring flowering bulbs anytime in the fall after temperatures cool down, but before the ground freezes.

If you cannot plant right away keep the bulbs in a cool, dry place such as a garage. Check on them occasionally to be sure they aren’t getting moldy or soft.

planting bulbs, P. Allen Smith

WHERE TO PLANT SPRING FLOWERING BULBS

Plant spring flowering bulbs in a spot with good drainage that receives 4 to 6 hours of sunlight each day.

If the bulbs are perennial, like daffodils, plant them in an area where they won’t be disturbed later in the season and where it won’t be a bother to allow the foliage to die back naturally after they flower.

SOIL FOR SPRING FLOWERING BULBS

Spring flowering bulbs appreciate well-drained, humus-rich soils. Add a little compost or bagged humus to the bottom of the planting hole as well as some synthetic bulb fertilizer. I prefer a synthetic product to the traditional bone meal because it doesn’t attract squirrels and rodents.

HOW DEEP TO PLANT SPRING FLOWERING BULBS

The rule of thumb is to plant bulbs at a depth that is 3 times their height. For example, if a daffodil bulb is approximately 2 inches tall, dig a hole 6 inches deep. If you plan to mulch the planting area be sure to factor the mulch into your planting depth.

When planting any type of bulb, position it so that the peaked end points up. The flatter, usually larger end goes at the bottom of the planting hole.

Images courtesy of P. Allen Smith

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