NOW here is when you need to plant those tulips, and daffodil bulbs and also the allium bulbs. I have so many gardeners want them in the spring and come looking for them at the greenhouse. NOW is the time to get the bulbs and plant them. Some information about fall planting bulbs for spring blooms.
Planting Fall Bulbs for Spring Flowers
If you haven’t planted bulbs before, fall is the perfect time! We’ve listed the best, most reliable fall bulbs for a glorious springtime display—including which bulbs are deer-resistant. We also have a wonderful chart that shows which flowers bloom in early, mid-, and late spring, providing color all season!
What Are Fall Bulbs?
Fall bulbs don’t flower in the fall. They’re planted in the fall to then bloom gloriously in the springtime! Think crocus, snowdrops, daffodils, tulips, and hyacinth, among others. This is in contrast to summer-flowering bulbs such as dahlias, elephant ear, caladium, gladiolus, and cannas, which are planted in the spring.
Why do we plant spring-flowering bulbs in the fall? These spring beauties are what we call “dormant perennial.” They need the cool, moist autumn soil to awaken them from their dormancy so they can begin growing roots in preparation for the spring show.
If you’re a beginner gardener, bulbs are so easy to pop in the ground (and spark your interest in gardening)! They’re foolproof to plant and really lift the spirits, not to mention feed the early pollinators such as the drowsy queen bumblebees.
When to Plant Fall Bulbs
The best time to plant fall bulbs is when soils are below 60°F in the late fall or about 6 weeks before a hard frost is expected. This is usually during September and October in the North. (Halloween is a good deadline to set.) In the South, bulbs are generally planted a little later—in October and November. (Tulips are one exception—you can plant tulips as late in winter as you can get them into the soil.)
In the warmest parts of the South, you may need to pre-cool some bulbs. Most fall bulbs require a 12 to 16 week cold period in ventilated packages in the bottom of your refrigerator at 40° to 50°F before planting. Check with your bulb supplier to determine whether the bulbs you purchase have been pre-cooled or whether you may need to give them a cold treatment.
Also, in warmer climates, note that some bulbs will only bloom once and then they’re done for the season. For example, you will have to plant tulip bulbs again each year. Still, they are a beautiful sight to behold and well worth the effort! Other fall bulbs, such as daffodils, will act as perennials and come up year after year.
How to Plant Fall Bulbs
Planting bulbs is generally an easy task (unless you’ve ordered hundreds of them), but there are some things that you want to make sure to get right. Here are tips to keep in mind:
Bulbs need at least part sun throughout the spring. They look beautiful growing beneath trees (before the trees leave out) as planted en mass or in drifts, amidst wildflowers, and mixed witih spring annuals in containers.
Bulbs need a spot with good drainage or they may rot. Work a few inches of compost or organic matter into the soil before planting for nutrients and drainage, especially if you have heavy clay soils. If your soil is sandy, plant bulbs slightly deeper; in clay soils, slightly shallower.
Of course, the first tip is to remember to plant bulbs with the point facing up! Examine bulbs carefully before placing them in the planting hole, being sure to set them with the roots facing downward.
The general rule is to plant bulbs at a depth of three times the width of the bulb. Consider bloom time for each bulb (early spring, mid-spring, late spring) and plant bulbs with different bloom times so that you have flowers throughout spring! Place shorter bulbs in the front of beds and borders.
Plant bulbs generously in case some do not sprout (or are devoured by hungry squirrels). Plant them in random order and spacing for a more natural appearance. Or, if you love groves of daffodils and blanketed landscapes of tulips, be prepared to buy and plant a large quantity of bulbs together!
You can use a special bulb-planting hand tool to assist you, but if you are planting en masse by the dozens, just use a shovel and make a wide hole for planting many bulbs at once.
After planting, apply fertilizer that’s fairly low in nitrogen, such as a 9-6-6 formulation.
Water bulbs deeply after planting—and remember, if your bulb was planted 6” deep into the soil, that water needs to soak in 6” deep to benefit the bulb. This will help settle the soil in the planting bed plus provide needed moisture for the bulbs to start rooting.
Water again before the ground freezes — the wintertime is when they are developing roots. Don’t overwater which can lead to bulb rot. Gardeners in southern locations can water again in late December or early January if it’s been an unusually dry winter.
Apply mulch to the planting area to keep the weeds down, hold in moisture, and avoid heaving from wintertime thawing and freezing.
Note: You will not need to start watering again until the flower buds first appear on the plant in the spring. Once bulbs start growing in the spring, water once a week (if you haven’t had any measurable rain) — this is especially important while they’re flowering. Water with a soaker hose to keep water off the bloom.
Generally speaking, higher-quality bulbs are bigger (for their type) and will flower more profusely. Second-rate bulbs don’t germinate as often, have smaller blooms, and often don’t return year after year.
Good bulbs should be fresh and firm, not brittle or rotted or moldy. Also, choose bulbs with intact husks to better fight any disease. When you receive bulbs, plant immediately or store in a cool, dark, dry place at around 60° to 65°F. Temperatures above 70°F. may damage the flower buds.
Do you have voles or squirrels or deer? We would consider the beautiful tulip and the delicate crocus off your list. Or, consider planting your bulbs in a “cage” fashioned with chicken wire. Also, see our article on rodent-proof bulbs.
We suggest you buy bulbs from reputable nursery or local garden centers versus a generic big box store. But also it’s easy to order online; there are many wonderful high-quality online nurseries including Dutch suppliers. Another advantage to ordering from a bulb specialist is picking unusual varieties or colors; there are many more choices.
Taken from https://www.almanac.com/planting-fall-bulbs-spring-flowers
Till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky’s Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa firstname.lastname@example.org 641-794-3337 cell 641-903-9365