Planting Bulbs for Spring
Joe Long - Cherryvale, KS

Hardwarian Joe Long

Newtons True Value

Cherryvale, KS

Planting Bulbs for Spring

Level: Experienced

In the fall, you’re probably not thinking about planning next spring’s garden, but it’s actually the ideal time for planting flower bulbs. Spring flowers need a long period of time underground during the winter months so they can bloom beautifully when it’s warm again. So, plant bulbs during autumn for the best results!

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    • Step 1: Choose Your Bulbs
       
      when to plant tulip bulbs

      Now that you know when to plant blubs, the next important step is choosing healthy bulbs. Avoid bulbs that are dry and withered or spongy and moldy. The best bulbs are firm and plump. As a rule of thumb, larger bulbs tend to produce more flowers.

      Before picking your bulbs, consider the color scheme you'd like to create. If you want a natural and varied look, choose bulbs that produce contrasting colors and a range of heights. For a more uniform garden, choose flower bulbs that will bloom in shades of the same color. Check the plant's height on the package and plant low-growing bulbs in front of taller ones.

    • Step 2: Choose a Site
       

      Since bulbs prefer full sun exposure, choosing the right gardening site is essential. Bulbs also need to be planted in rich, well-draining soil, which will help feed the bulbs underground and improve the quality of your springtime bloom. You must also have proper drainage in your garden because bulbs can easily rot in conditions that are too wet.

      Helpful Tip

      If you need to improve drainage in the area where bulbs are planted, add compost or peat moss to your soil.

    • Step 3: Prepare the Soil
       
      small shovel, typically called a garden trowel used for planting flowers, plants and bulbs

      Bulbs need to be planted before the ground freezes so they have time to develop strong roots. Planting bulbs in autumn gives the roots plenty of growing time before spring. Use a garden tiller or trowel to loosen your soil. Remove any weeds or unwanted vegetation from the area using a rototiller to splice the garden. Go over the area again crosswise to cut the soil up further.

      When you’re ready to begin planting bulbs, dig 8" holes for larger bulbs and 5" holes for smaller bulbs using a bulb planter. If you don’t have a ruler handy, a good guide is to plant the bulbs twice as deep as they are tall. Check the bulbs’ packages to determine spacing and exact planting depth. The larger the bulbs, the more space you should allow between them.

      Helpful Tip

      Add a thick layer of compost into the soil using a tiller or spade for ultimate bulb health.

    • Step 4: Plant Your Bulbs
       
      planting bulbs in spring

      Bulbs grow best when they're planted in groups. In a small garden, plant bulbs in groupings of 6 to 12. In a large garden, plant bulbs in groups of 12 to 24.

      Be sure to plant the pointed end of the bulb up. If you can't tell which end is correct, place the bulb on its side and it will right itself. Cover bulbs lightly with soil and sprinkle bulb food and blood meal on top. Blood meal is a popular fertilizer that is often used for roses and other bulbs. Next, add a 2" layer of mulch or leaves. Keep the soil moist by watering thoroughly.

      Helpful Tip

      To protect your bulbs from pests, plant bulbs in a cage made of hardware cloth. The roots and stems grow through, but rodents won't be able to get to the bulbs.

    • Step 5: Give Your Bulbs Care and Attention
       
      Whitney Farms Organic and Natural Bulb and Bloom Food

      Bulbs don't require heavy feeding, but they do need an annual application of fertilizer to look their best. Remove bloom seed heads immediately after the bloom period, but let the bulb foliage die naturally. This keeps the bulbs a healthy size so they can thrive. To help prevent weed seeds from growing, consider mulching with organic matter or use weed barriers.

      Great job! You should have a beautiful garden come spring.

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