Planting Spring-Flowering Bulbs

Martha Stewart
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With winter temperatures closing in, it may be difficult to feel enthusiasm for the following spring. But if you like spring flowers in your garden, autumn is the time to plant them. Spring-flowering bulbs need to be planted now so they can put out roots in the fall soil and then go through a dormant period in the winter.

There is a tremendous variety from which to choose for different colors, heights, bloom times, and locations (woodlands, lawns, or prepared garden beds). Best of all, bulbs are easy to grow, and most of them will return year after year—even increase in number if planted correctly, rewarding you with a wonderful show of color every spring.

There is nothing more spectacular than vast drifts of daffodils and tulips bursting into bloom. Use them to fill gaps in beds and borders, under plant shrubs and trees, or let them naturalize in the grass or woodland. Interplanting bulbs with perennials creates a succession of bloom and foliage and helps to eliminate bare spots where bulbs go dormant; as the bulb foliage dwindles, the perennials will grow up, camouflaging the bulbs’ yellowing leaves.

Tulip bulbs.

Tulip bulbs are laid out evenly on a garden bed.

Bulb planters.

Choose a bulb planter that’s right for the job; I think the smaller one will work well for the tulip bulbs.

Making a hole with a bulb planter.

Make a hole with the bulb planter about 3 to 4inches deep.

Planting a bulb.

A bulb is placed in the bottom of the hole with the pointed end facing upwards. This is very important, as the plant shoot emerges from the pointed tip.

Emptying a bulb planter.

The soil from the bulb planter is emptied back into the hole.

Hand-tamping soil.

Then the soil is tamped down to eliminate air pockets.

Raking soil.

A sprinkling of bone meal is raked into the surface. When it rains, the nutrients will slowly seep down into the earth and nourish the bulb.

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