Start thinking about spring bulbs

North Country Gardening

Now, that it is October, it is time to plan ahead for the spring. I know that can be hard to do — I sometimes have difficulty planning a day ahead of time! But, if you want spring color from bulbs, now is the time to plant. Since spring bulbs are a welcome sight in the garden after a long winter, it worth the planning and work.

Planting bulbs now is literally like planting a little piece of spring. A bulb is almost like an egg. An embryonic plant complete with leaves, stems, and flowers is locked inside the bulb just waiting to grow just like a chick in an egg Everything that plant needs to grow and flower in the spring is inside the bulb.

Technically that bulb will most likely flower no matter where you plant it, but if you want beautiful flowers for years to come, some planing is necessary. Start by selecting bulbs that are large, firm, and healthy looking. Once you have the bulbs, all that’s left is proper placement and planting.

Choose a site where the bulbs will receive good sunlight during spring - 10 to 12 hours of direct sun a day is perfect. Also choose a spot with good drainage or the bulbs may rot. Amend poorly drained, heavy soils with organic matter to improve tilth, nutrients, and drainage.

The ideal planting depth depends on the size of the bulb. The general rule is to plant three times as deep as the bulb is wide. That means about 4 to 6 inches deep for small bulbs like snowdrops, crocuses, and scillas, and about 8 inches deep for large bulbs like hybrid tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. You can follow the recommended spacing on the packages or place them closer together for a bigger impact.

Planted en masse, the exuberant colors of spring bulbs make a grand statement. Because more is better, the shovel is my preferred planting tool. Once they are planted, the gardener’s work is done. The bulbs develop throughout winter, and with no assistance from us, start sprouting in early spring. All that’s left for the gardener to do is admire the flowers and cut a few for vases. Start planning and selecting now for a spectacular spring.

Anne Lenox Barlow is a professional horticulturist who enjoys gardening with her family in Plattsburgh. She also chronicles her gardening experiences at her blog www.northcountrygarden.wordpress.com. She can be reached at a.lenox.barlow@gmail.com.

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