Planting Your Bulbs for Spring
For expert and budding gardeners alike, a mistake like not planting flower bulbs in the fall can be devastating. It can drastically diminish your flower options for your home flowerbeds. If this has happened for you, you may be wondering, “Is it too late to plant flower bulbs?”
Bulbs are many gardeners’ favorite, based on their ease of planting and beautiful results. In addition, bulbs will bloom year after year if you take some basic care when planting. Dig a trench or individual holes, depending on whether you prefer a more formal, straight line planting or a clustered, naturalistic growth pattern. Mix a significant amount of mulch and bone meal into the soil before planting.
When purchasing bulbs, select large, healthy specimens that are free from blemishes and resemble an onion in look and feel. Avoid soft, shriveled, spongy, or very hard bulbs. Spacing depends on variety of bulb, but generally 4” to 6” apart works well. Water thoroughly after you finish planting then not again until mid-spring. Bulbs will rot if they get or stay too wet.
While it is ideal to plant bulbs early so that they have time to prepare for the blooming season, all hope isn’t lost if you didn’t plant. Nurseries offer bulbs grown in containers throughout the winter for those who want a bulb that will be ready to bloom later on.
If you buy these nursery-grown bulbs, all you need to do is properly acclimatize them in the spring for them to be ready to plant. Find a sheltered spot in your yard that will create a gentler environment before they are planted, then wait for the time when daffodils come up. When you see daffodils popping up, you know that the soil is ready for your bulbs. Daffodils typically indicate that spring weather, or bulb weather, is afoot.
If you bought bulbs last fall and simply forgot to plant them, you can try to plant them now. Just be aware that they may no longer be viable after such a long waiting period. If they simply sat around in your garage all season, they will likely be unsuccessful this late in the planting season.
How Do I Know Which Bulbs to Plant?
It is important to know exactly which bulbs you want to plant; this knowledge will allow you to both properly space your flowers and to get the maximum payoff for your efforts. Bulbs like tulips and daffodils—as well as Dutch irises—are all popular bulbs, and if you want to plant them, you want to buy those that are green and budding. However, you should be sure that they are not blooming yet.
When you are ready to plant them, water your bulbs faithfully. Then put them in a cold area that is still above freezing. Once your bulbs are properly acclimated in a pot outside, you can then plant them in your flowerbeds. They should be able to handle any freezes that might occur or any other unexpected weather issues.
If you plant your bulbs properly, you will find that they will have a significantly longer lifespan than they would if you were to grow them in a room-temperature setting inside your house. Not only will their roots be restricted by an indoor pot, but they will also miss out on direct sunlight, nutrients, and other important factors nature provides. Thanks to the cooler temperatures alone outside, you can expect bulbs to last an extra month (and possibly more) beyond what they would if they were grown inside.
If in doubt, seek help from your local nurseries. They can give you more advice on which bulbs to plant, when to plant them, and how to best care for them for your specific growing area. After all the work you put into it, you can enjoy the payoff of beautifying your home with beautiful, blooming bulbs