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Editor In Chief, United Home Improvement
Flowering bulbs provides another dimension to gardening by adding
beauty and interest. Bulb selection can be a very creative task
because there are a large number of different types of bulbs,
offering variations in forms, fragrances, and colors. Generally, the
term "Bulbs" refer to corms, tubers, tuberous roots, rhizomes and
true bulbs. The process of planting bulbs is fairly easy if you
follow the correct steps.
Generally, fall is the season for planting bulbs. However, certain
bulbs should be planted in the spring. Lilies are an exception to
this rule because they can be planted in either fall or spring. It
is also important to know the difference between hardy bulbs and
tender bulbs. Hardy bulbs will survive the winter right in the
ground to bloom again the following year. Tender bulbs will also
flower year after year, but in cold climates they must be dug up and
stored indoors over the winter, then replanted the following spring.
Bulb selection is an important step. You want to be sure to select
quality bulbs. Look for plump, firm bulbs. Also, pay attention to
size. Generally, small bulbs are best for naturalizing and large
ones work well if you are looking for a formal design where the
flower stands out.
• When selecting a site for planting, consider light, temperature,
soil texture, and function. Most bulbs require full sun exposure.
• Plant bulbs with the pointed side up. Most bulbs should be planted
at a depth equal to three times their diameter.
• Consider improving the soil with compost, superphosphate, or even
• Raise wet beds with a sand underlay for drainage. You want your
bulbs to be moist, but not completely saturated. Sogginess leads to
fungus growth. Tulips are particularly sensitive to botrytis fungus
or grey mold.
• If you are planting individual bulbs, you can use a hand trowel or
• If you are planting many bulbs, dig one big trench or hole and
place the bulbs in the bottom. Keep in mind, bulbs look better
planted in clusters or "bouquets" instead of skinny rows.
• Carefully consider the design style you want to achieve, natural
or formal. Naturalizing, also known as perennials, refers to a
planting technique that uses bulbs that come back year after year.
Some refer to such bulbs as repeaters. In formal designs it is
unlikely that you will be using bulbs that come back year after
• Keep an eye out for chipmunks, voles, mice, deer, woodchucks,
squirrels, and other animals that will destroy newly planted bulbs.
Consider using traps and scare tactics. Also try using bulb
fertilizer or super phosphate instead of bone meal.
• To protect against squirrels that have a habit of digging up your
bulbs, it is a good idea to cover them after planting. Use some
chicken wire and disguise it with an extra inch of compost.
• Certain bulbs will fall victim to becoming a “blind Bulb.” This
means that the bulb fails to produce a flower. Daffodils commonly
fall under this category. To avoid such circumstances, be sure to
keep your bulbs well fed and watered.
• Avoid over watering. Wait until the compost has completely dried
before re-watering your bulbs.
• In the winter, mulch bulbs 2 to 4 inches deep with organic
material such as straw, pine bark, hay, or ground leaves.
• If you are leaving bulbs in place for bloom next year, do not cut
the leaves after flowering until they start to wither. Healthy
leaves will help produce food for plant growth. Wait until they are
yellow before cutting them off.
• If your garden experiences severe weather, place bubble wrap over
your bulbs and pots to avoid freezing them.
• Pick off any seed pots that form after flowering. This allows
bulbs to concentrate on building up its reserves for the next years
flowering. Seeds take stored food from the bulbs.