As fall approaches, it is time to start thinking about planting flower bulbs to create a dazzling spring flower garden-spring flowering bulbs require approximately 6 months of cold weather for root development and blooming. Whether you favor tulips, daffodils, grape hyacinths, crocuses or snowdrops, if you follow these guidelines for fall planting, raising beautiful springtime flower beds should prove easy:
1. When choosing among bulbs of a given flower, always opt for those that are large, firm and free of any bruises or mold.
2. Flower bulbs should be planted approximately 6 weeks prior to the ground freezing-in most parts of the United States, this would be mid-October.
3. Ideally, plant flower bulbs in areas that receive 12 hours of daily sun, and no less than 6 hours.
4. Plant flower bulbs in areas that drain well. Avoid planting flower bulbs in areas that collect water. Standing water often turns into stagnant pools that can rot flower bulbs.
5. Work and crumble the soil in your flower beds so that it is loose. If you are planting flower bulbs in a clay area or creating a new flower bed, the soil will benefit from adding compost or peat moss. It is unnecessary, however, to add fertilizer to first-year blooms because flower bulbs are natural habitats for nutrients.
6. Plant the pointy end of the flower bulb up-the flower bloom erupts from this end while the roots come from the flat, bottom part of the flower bulb. If unsure of which end is pointy and which is flat, like with many crocus bulbs, plant the flower bulb sideways-the flower will battle its way topside.
7. According to the “three times rule”, flower bulbs should be planted at a depth 3 times their height and at a spacing 3 times their width.
8. The most impressive flower gardens are those where flower bulbs are planted in clusters. Upon blooming, clustering results in a more substantial concentration of flowers than flower bulbs planted in straight rows. In cases where you only have a small number of flower bulbs, clusters are particularly necessary to achieve aesthetic success;
9. Once your flower bulbs are properly planted, cover them with soil, and water the ground liberally.
10. As a final step, scatter leaves on top of your newly planted flower bulbs to camouflage the area from squirrels and other rodents. Squirrels and rodents have a special affinity for tulip and crocus bulbs. One preventative measure to deter pests is to sprinkle granulated garlic and cayenne pepper in the soil of your flower garden. The garlic will mask the smell of the flower bulbs and the strong aroma and taste of cayenne pepper will deter rodents from digging up and eating your flower bulbs.
Follow these fall planting tips and you’re likely to have a burgeoning garden of eye-popping, colorful spring flowers.
Russ & Polomski, Spring Flowering Bulbs, Clemson University
Planting Fall Bulbs, Backyard Garden & Patio
Streich, Jannssen, Cue, Spring Flowering Bulbs, University of Nebraska
Stannard, A Step-by-Step Guide: Growing Bulbs Successfully, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Lennon, How to Keep Spring Bulbs Safe From Hungry Squirrels, Green Thumb Articles