Today let’s look at everything you need to know about spring bulbs:
Wouldn’t you love to grow tulips like this? I know I would. I took the above photo as inspiration for my own garden. This fabulous planting was seen at the famous Roozengaarde gardens in Skagit Valley, Washington. Using Muscari with its brilliant blue flowers to offset the pink tulips is magical, don’t you think?
When to plant:
Spring bulbs begin to arrive at the garden centres in the first week of September so it’s important to shop soon to get what you need. The best time to plant spring bulbs depends on when they bloom. If you choose early blooming bulbs it’s best they go in the ground this month. If you choose later blooming bulbs such as mid season tulips, the planting can wait until October or November. Of course, you want to get your bulbs planted before the ground is frozen and that will depend on where you live. Bulbs need to go through a cold period to bloom well in the spring. If you live in a warm climate you may need to pre-chill your bulbs before planting.
Where to plant:
Plant bulbs in well drained soil. Spring bulbs can be planted underneath deciduous trees as they will bloom before the tree starts to leaf out. Once the leaves of the trees appear, the garden is kept on the dry side which is perfect for bulbs. Bulbs grow well in containers for small spaces, in the ground and in raised beds. Some bulbs do well in the shade but many prefer some light. Be sure to read the growing instructions that come with your bulbs.
How to choose the right bulb:
When shopping for bulbs be sure to check them for signs of mold. Healthy bulbs should be firm when touched and have clean disease-free skins. One rotten bulb will spoil your planting scheme by infecting the rest. Choose bulbs that work well for your space. If you want to see your bulbs up close, try planting them in containers. Bulbs are tough plants and do well over the winter in containers. I try to avoid planting bulbs on the very outside edge of the containers just in case it freezes. If a hard winter is predicted I place evergreen boughs over my containers to keep the soil from freezing. If you live in areas of very cold winters you may want to bring your bulb containers inside a cool garage for protection.
I like to plant bulbs throughout the garden but pay special attention to the ones along my front walkway. It’s the first impression people get when they come over and you want them to enjoy the display. Don’t forget to try out bulbs such as Allium for the architectural element that they add to the garden or tiny Scillas with their bright blue flowers. I love planting species or botanical tulips such as Tulip ‘Saxatilis’ which opens its blooms during the day and closes them at night. My best planting scheme so far has been the Allium below with purple and white Irises. Both bloom at the same time making it picture perfect.
Bloom times matter:
Bulbs bloom as early as February and with the right selection you can have spring bulbs well into May. Start by planting early bulbs such as Crocuses and Narcissus ‘Tete a Tete’ or Narcissus ‘February Gold’ and follow them with early, mid and late season tulips to ensure a continuous show of blooms. Once the spring bulb display is over it’s time to plan the summer garden.
How to Plant:
Planting bulbs is as simple as dig, drop and cover. Bulbs are generally planted three times their size deep with the pointed end up and one bulb width apart. The only exception I make is I plant my tulips deeper. I find by planting tulips deeper it keeps the squirrels from digging them up. In my post ‘How to Plant Spring Bulbs‘, I show detailed plans on how to place your bulbs. Spring bulbs are so worth the extra time and money spent in the fall. Who doesn’t want to have a taste of spring colour after a long dark winter?