How to Plant Spring-Flowering Bulbs
October is a great time to plant spring-flowering bulbs. The soil temperatures in early fall are ideal for good root development. With a little planning and effort this fall you can be enjoying their cheery blossoms next spring. A soil temperature of 60 degrees is ideal.
Selecting the planting site
Select the planting site as carefully as you selected the bulbs. The soil should be fertile and well drained. If you have clay soil add compost or peat moss to break up the soil. Bulbs planted in wet sites will often be short-lived so add sand for good drainage. Amending poor soils will go a long way to ensure dependable blooms for the spring. The more suitable the site, the longer the bulbs will last in the garden.
Most bulbs prefer a sunny site. Bulbs are often successful beneath a high-branched deciduous tree because they usually flower before the tree fully leafs out.
To maximize visual impact, plant bulbs in large groups. The general rule is to plant the bulb at the depth of 2-1/2 to 3 times the height of the bulb. Don't forget to plant your bulbs right side up. This means planting the pointed end up for bulbs like tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and many others. For some of the more unusual bulbs or bulb-like structures it can be harder to tell which end goes up. If no roots or buds are apparent, you can plant some bulbs on their sides. The bulb will find the sun and bloom normally with only a little extra effort.
Fertilizers, such as 5-10-5 or bone meal, can be incorporated into the soil at the time of planting. Bone meal is often slower acting and more expensive than the others. Keep fertilizer off the leaves and away from the roots, as it will burn them.
After planting be sure to water the area thoroughly to provide plenty of moisture for root growth before the ground freezes. The mulch layer will also conserve moisture in the soil.
In order to bloom again next year and produce the offsets or new bulbs, the nutrients must be replenished. It is vital to allow leaves to remain after the bulbs have flowered. After the leaves turn yellow, cut and destroy the stems and foliage.
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