Planting Bulbs the Right Way Planting Bulbs the Right Way

For many years, bulbs have been a favorite among both beginning and experienced gardeners. One of the best features of bulb plants, of course, is their ability to bloom again and again with only one planting. This idea obviously appeals to busy gardeners, and it makes bulb flowers the perfect choice for those hard to reach areas of the landscape as well.

Many of the most beautiful bulbs are planted in the fall for a spring bloom, and the good news is that most bulbs are quite easy to plant and easy to care for as well. Spring flowering bulbs should be planted in the autumn, but they must be planted before the first hard freeze has take place. The coming cold weather will actually help these bulbs and sustain them through their dormancy period.

It is generally best to plant the bulbs as soon after purchase as possible, but if this is not possible, the bulbs can be stored in a cool location, or even in the refrigerator, until you are ready to plant them. If using the refrigerator for storage, however, be sure to keep the bulbs well away from any ripening fruit, since the ethylene released by the fruit could damage the bulbs.

Planning Bulb Arrangement and Location:

When you are ready to plant the bulbs, it is important to plan your arrangement for maximum impact. For the best possible display of color you may want to cluster your bulbs in curved shapes. This type of arrangement can be particularly striking if used to accent a mailbox or a flagpole.

It is also important to plant the bulbs in a location that has good drainage. Bulbs can be severely damaged if they become waterlogged, so be sure that the soil is well drained, and avoid planting in areas where the soil remains damp for long periods of time following a rain. It is a good idea to map out the location for the planting before you shop for your bulbs.

As you plan your planting, keep the adult size of the plants in mind, and to space them accordingly. Some bulb flowers will remain quite small, while others will grow very tall. It is important to take the adult size of each plant into account as you are planning your garden.

Preparing the Flower Bed:

When it is time to prepare that flower bed, begin by tiling or spading the earth to a depth of between 8 and 10 inches. If the soil in your location is very sandy, it is a good idea to add some quality compost, peat moss or shredded leaves. If the soil is composed mostly of clay, adding peat moss or a coarse sand will help to improve drainage and keep the bulbs healthier.

Planting Instructions:

When planting the bulbs, follow the care instructions you received when you purchased them. Different varieties of bulbs will require different planting depths and spacing. If no planting information is available, you can follow the general guideline of planting the bulb three times as deep as the bulb is tall. For instance, a one inch bulb would be planted three inches deep. This is a general recommendation, however, and it is always best to follow the care recommendation for your particular species of bulb.

Planting tools:

A hole for each bulb can be made using either a shovel, a trowel or a special bulb planting tool. Bulb planters make the job of planting bulbs a great deal easier, so if you have a lot of bulbs to plant you may want to invest a few dollars in such a device.

Most experts recommend mulching the new bed of bulbs immediately after planting. A good layer of mulch will help to cool the soil, prevent weeds, retain moisture and provide additional organic material for the growing plants.

Watering Newly Planted Bulbs:

The bulbs should also be watered thoroughly the day they are planted. If the fall and winter season is very dry, it is also helpful to water the flower bed occasionally. During the active growing season the bulbs should receive at least one inch of water every week, either from natural rainfall or supplemental watering.

Fertilizing the Growing Bulbs:

After the bulbs have begun to emerge in the springtime, it is important to fertilize them every two to three weeks, using a quality water soluble fertilizer. This feeding will help to promote additional flowering and better growth of the bulbs. After the bulbs have finished their blooming cycle, the flower spike can be removed to prevent seeding and give the bulb additional nutrients. The leaves can simply be allowed to die back and dry up, then be removed. This will help to prepare the bulb for its dormancy period and ensure a quality bloom when spring rolls around again.

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