Gardening with Flower
Think Spring- Think bulbs... but plant
Nothing says spring quite like a daffodil, crocus or tulip. Bulbs, however,
can fill your garden with vibrant color from early spring through late
summer. They are, in general, very hearty, easy to grow and care for,
and will bloom year after year. With just a little effort, you can have
colorful blooms from your bulbs all through the spring and summer. Daffodils,
iris, tulips, gladiolus, hyacinth, and daylilies are just some of the
many bulb favorites.
Bulbs are easy to purchase over the internet. When buying bulbs, the larger
the better in order to ensure a good bloom (bulb size is usually listed
as DNI being the largest, DNII being smaller, and DNIII being smallest).
Good bulbs should also be firm (avoid signs of rotting or softness) and
should not exhibit signs of external damage such as cracks and deep scratches.
Avoid bulbs that are already growing shoots or roots. Before planting,
keep bulbs stored in a cool, dry location without direct sunlight.
When deciding which type of bulb to purchase, think about timing. (Click
here to find your Plant Hardiness Zone) Are you looking for color
for early spring? mid-summer? Perhaps you would like several types of
bulbs that bloom at different times so that you have color extended throughout
spring and summer? (see Related Links below)
Here are some recommendations for which bulbs bloom at what time.
Early Spring Blooms:
Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow) – Hardy to Zone 3
Galanthus (Snowdrop) – Hardy to Zone 3
Eranthis (Winter Aconite) – Hardy to Zone 4
Hyacinthus (Hyacinth) – Hardy to Zone 3
Muscari (Grape Hyacinth) – Hardy to Zone 3
Narcissus (Daffodil) – Hardy to Zone 4
Tulipa (Tulip) – Hardy to Zone 3
Crocus (Crocus) – Hardy to Zone 3
Anemone (Windflower) – Hardy to Zone 4
Scilla (Bluebell) – Hardy to Zone 3
Late Spring Blooms:
Allium (Allium) – Hardy to Zone 5
Convallaria (Lily of the Valley) – Hardy to Zone 3
Sparaxis (Harlequin Flower) – Hardy to Zone 9
Trillium (Wood Lily) – Hardy to Zone 5
Early-to-Mid Summer Blooms:
Gladiolus (Sword Lily) – Hardy to Zone 7
Iris (Iris) – Hardy to Zone 4
Dahlia (Dahlia) Hardy to Zone 8
Hemerocallis (Daylily) – Hardy to Zone 4
Lilium (Lily) – Hardy to Zone 4
Ornithogalum (Star of Bethlehem) – Hardy to Zone 8
Acidanthera (Peacock Flower) – Hardy to Zone 7
Crocosmia (Montebretia) – Hardy to Zone 7
Ranunculus (Persian Buttercup) – Hardy to Zone 7
Late Summer Blooms:
Amaryllis (Belladonna Lily) – Hardy to Zone 7
Colchicum (Meadow saffron) – Hardy to Zone 5
As a rule of thumb, bulbs should be planted in the fall (roughly early
to mid-October). You want to get the bulbs in the ground about six weeks
before the ground starts to freeze. Plant the bulbs in well-prepared soil.
Planting depth is determined by the type of bulb (4 inches deep for crocus,
6 inches deep for daffodils and hyacinths, 8 inches deep for tulips).
Spacing is also determined by the type of the bulb, but, in general, plant
bulbs about four to six inches apart. If you prefer a more formal look
of rows, you may wish to invest in a bulb planter. If you desire a more
natural, clumped look, dig a wider hole that can accommodate several bulbs
(5 to 10) planted together. A small amount of fertilizer can be added
at the bottom of each hole, then covered with a thin layer of soil so
that the bulb is not resting directly on the fertilizer. Bulbs should
be placed into the hole pointed end up with the flat rooting side facing
down. Cover the holes with soil and give the bulbs a thorough soaking
Caring for Bulbs:
Dead-heading (removing dead flowers) will allow the plants to put all
their energy into new and existing flowers. Do not, however, remove the
leaves once the flowers have gone until they start to turn brown.
In climates of zone 6 and below (click here to find your zone), many bulbs
are hearty enough to make it through the winter in the ground. Varieties
that are vulnerable to frost, such as dahlias, should be dug up and wintered
in a frost-free environment. Better yet, unless you just have to have
that dahlia, just opt to plant the varieties that can spend the winter
in the ground.
Bulbs are a wonderful way (with minimal effort) to bring vibrant color
to your garden throughout the spring and summer. With just a little work
in the fall, you can enjoy beautiful blooms as early as next spring!