Fall Planting for Spring Flowers

Whether you are renovating or building a new home, few things are more inviting than swaths of spring flowers. Spring bulbs like tulips and daffodils are best planting in the fall. Our friends at 50Plus.com share some tips…

A little work now produces huge rewards later. Read these tips for planting bulbs.

Although the gardening season will soon be coming to a close, there is still one planting activity to be done: planting bulbs for spring flowers.

While it may seem odd to plant bulbs now, the reason is that spring-flowering bulbs need time to develop a solid root system before winter sets in. For best results, wait until soil temperatures are below 60 degrees F before planting bulbs. That means waiting to plant until mid-September or October.

You can buy bulbs at most garden centers, or if you have enough time, order them through catalogs. By choosing different varieties, you can enjoy spring flowers from late winter to early summer. For an early glimpse of spring, plant crocuses and snowdrops. Daffodils bloom next, followed by tulips, squill, and grape hyacinth. Indian hyacinths (Camassia) are some of the last, along with Summer Snowflakes (Leucojum).

When purchasing bulbs, buy only top quality bulbs–ones that are large, firm, and of good color. Cheap bulbs will only produce poor, or sometimes even no, flowers.

Choose a site that has good drainage and at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. If the soil is porly drained, consider raised beds, or planting chequered lilies (Fritillaria meleagris). To prepare planting beds, dig up six to eight inches of soil. Add peat moss or other organic matter, then mix in fertilizer containing phosphorus such as rock phosphate, superphosphate, or special bulb fertilizer. If rodents, skunks, or other small mammals are a problem, bone meal will only attract them. You can help avoid digging problems by placing a fine wire mesh over the bulb bed. Or place sharply crushed rocks or shells you can buy for this purpose around bulbs at time of planting. You can find these at complete garden or feed stores.

I like to plant bulbs in groups or clumps rather than in rows. For a nice show of color, I plant bulbs in front of evergreen shrubs or among perennials and other flowering shrubs. Formal tulips look best planted in beds in symmetrical arrangements while daffodils should be planted in “naturalized” or informal plantings. A good method for informally arranging daffodils is to throw them over your shoulder, and plant them where they land!

Plant bulbs upright, pointed ends up, at the recommended depth. As a rule of thumb, bulbs should be planted three times as deep as the bulb’s greatest dimension. Use a shovel, trowel, or bulb planter, and space bulbs according to size. Large bulbs such as tulips and daffodils should be placed four to six inches apart while smaller bulbs such as crocus, snowdrops, and squill should be placed one to two inches apart.

Read full article by Dr. Leonard Perry here…

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