Introduction to Bulb Flower Plants
Just about every flower gardener will work with bulb flower plants at one time or another. Flower bulbs are loved by gardeners for the ease with which they grow, their hardiness and the fact that they can bloom again and again for many consecutive seasons without the need to replant. With all these advantages, it is no wonder that bulb plants are so popular among both new and experienced gardeners.
Choosing the right bulbs, however, is one thing that many beginning gardeners have trouble with. After you develop and eye and feel for finding the best bulbs, however, you will be able to spot them from across the garden center.
When choosing flowering bulbs for your garden, it is important to choose the firmest and largest bulbs. The size of the flowering bulb is important, since large bulbs are more likely to provide many blooms. The firmness of the bulb is a good indication of its health, and bulbs that are soft or mushy are unlikely to bloom. Bulbs are particularly susceptible to water damage. It is important to choose a bulb that is not to soft, but it is also important to look for cracks or scars. Bulbs with cracks or scars may have become too dry to bloom. Likewise, any bulbs that have begun to spout roots should be avoided, as they are unlikely to bloom properly once planted.
How flowering bulb plants are planted in the garden is important as well. Most bulbs are best planted in the fall, most commonly in early to mid October. The goal is to get the bulbs into the ground six weeks before the ground begins to freeze, so obviously the best time to plant will vary from location to location.
Bulbs should be planted in a well prepared soil, and the depth they should be planted will be determined by the type of bulb. For example, crocus bulbs are generally planted four inches deep, daffodil and hyacinth bulbs six inches deep and tulip bulbs at a depth of eight inches.
A simple gardening tool called a bulb planter is great for achieving a more uniform look to the blooming garden. Bulb planters can be used to easily prepare perfect looking rows of flowers. Those gardeners who prefer a more wild and freewheeling look, on the other hand, often dig a single hole and plant several bulbs in it. This approach can lead to spectacular, if somewhat unpredictable, patterns once the bulbs begin to bloom.
It is important to use a small amount of fertilizer at the bottom of each hole you dig when planting bulbs. The fertilizer should then be topped with a thin layer of soil, and the bulb carefully placed on top of the soil. It is important not to place the bulb directly on top of the fertilizer, as doing so could damage the bulb. Bulbs are always planted with the pointed end stick up and the flat, rooted side lying on top of the layer of soil. After the bulbs are in place, the rest of the hole should be filled with soil and the garden should be given a thorough watering.
Even though flowering bulbs are among the hardiest of garden plants, there are a few important things to remember. One important technique to become familiar with is deadheading. The term deadheading should already be familiar to those gardeners who work with perennials. Deadheading is simply removing spent blooms in order to encourage more blossoms to develop. This process is important with bulb plants as well. When working with bulbs, however, it is important not to remove the leaves from the plants until the leaves have begun turning brown.
Taking care of the bulbs over the winter is important as well. In warmer climates, many bulbs can remain in the ground over winter. It is important, however, to remove tender bulbs such as dahlias, even in warmer climates. These bulbs should be stored over the winter in a cool, dry location.
Bulbs are wonderful plants for any gardener, from the newest to the most experienced. Their combination of hardiness, color and beauty make them hard to beat for any flower enthusiast.
A guide to popular flowering bulbs
Flowering bulbs are among the most popular of all ornamental plants, and they have enjoyed striking popularity for many years. Bulbs are renowned for their hardiness, color and variety, and there are enough types of bulbs to please even the most discriminating gardener.
With so many bulbs to choose from, it can be difficult to choose the right ones, so we present here a quick rundown of some of the most popular varieties of bulbs for the garden.
Crocus bulbs typically bloom in early spring or in late winter, and they feature tubular shaped flowers ranging in size from 1½” to 3” long. Crocuses come in a rainbow of colors, and they are a staple of many gardens. Other types of crocus, such as the saffron crocus, bloom instead in the fall, and the flowers can rise from the bare ground weeks, or even only days, after the bulbs are planted. It is important for crocus bulbs to be planted as soon as they become available in the fall. The best way to plant crocus bulbs is two to three inches deep, with a spacing of three or four inches between bulbs. Crocus bulbs should be planted in good quality soil with good drainage, and they should be provided with full sun or partial shade and watered regularly during their growing and blooming seasons.
Dahlias bloom from summer through fall, and they also come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes. The size of dahlia flowers can range from two to twelve inches, and the height of the plants themselves can vary from just under a foot to more than seven feet for certain stake varieties. It is best to plant dahlias after the last frost of the spring, and the roots should be set between four and six inches deep. Tall dahlia varieties should be spaced four or five feet apart, while shorter ones can be spaced from one to one and a half feet apart.
Dahlias should have access to full sun, but in areas where the summers are very hot they may benefit from partial shade as well. It is important to observe a regular watering schedule during the bloom and growth cycles of the dahlia.
Dahlia bulbs can be left in the ground if the winter temperatures do not go below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but most gardeners prefer instead to dig the dahlia bulbs up at the end of each growing season. To do this, you should wait until the foliage has yellowed, then cut the stalks back to approximately four inches. The clumps of the roots should be permitted to dry in the sun a few hours, then placed in boxes in a single layer and covered up with either sawdust or dry sand. The bulbs should be stored in a cool dry place over the winter and replanted the following spring.
The galanthus is more commonly known as the snowdrop, and it is one of the first plants to bloom at the end of the winter. These plants are typically six to eight inches in height, and they feature one bell shaped flower on each side of the stalk. Snowdrops are best suited for colder climates, and the bulbs are best planted in the autumn of the year. The bulbs should be planted from three to four inches deep and about three inches apart. Snowdrops typically do best in full sun or partial shade, and they like regular watering during their blooming and growing cycles.