Preparing Soil For Planting Perennial Bulbs Preparing Soil For Planting Perennial Bulbs
Preparing the soil for perennial bulbs is an important part of planting process. For bulbs to be successful in the long term, they need to be in the right kind of soil, and since you are making a long term investment with perennial bulbs, choosing the right site and creating the best soil before you plant is vital to their success.
Choose a Great Site
You need to consider the amount of sunlight that your bulbs will receive before you plant.
Consider the type of bulb. Does the flower require full sunlight? Are they able to thrive in partial sun? If you plan to plant under a tree, will the bulbs get sun in the early spring when they need it? Or are they late-blooming summer bulbs? If so, under a shady tree will probably not work as a planting site.
Consider the slope of the land as well. If it slopes to the south, then your bulbs will receive plenty of sunlight each day and will bloom earlier in the season.
Preparing the Soil
Bulbs need soil that is rich in phosphorous to strengthen roots and encourage matting. The planting depth for many of the larger perennial bulbs is as deep as 8 inches, so work the phosphorus deep into the soil so that it is available to those bulbs as they shoot down roots.
Additionally, you’ll need to add air and compost to any clay soil. Again, dig down at least 8 inches with a shovel and break up any clay lumps, then add the compost and vermiculite. Cut the additives into the dirt, breaking the lumps up further and creating an even mixture.
Fertilize the Soil
Use a 10-10-10 fertilizer and add it to your prepared soil. Mix it into the soil well, and make the mixture even so that there are not lumps of fertilizer. Too much fertilizer in one place can burn the bulbs and keep them from growing at all.
After the bulbs are growing well, they should be fertilized in the fall. They should never be fertilized in the spring, since it actually makes their blooming period shorter and can lead to bulb rot.
Balance the Ph
You also want to test the soil to discover the Ph balance. You can ask at your state college county extension service and find out if you need to add to your soil to change the Ph level.
Most commonly, the Ph is low, or acidic, and you will need to add lime in order to bring it up above 6.0. The ideal Ph level is between 6.0 and 7.0.
You can have your soil tested to be sure it is within the proper range, or you can get a standard suggestion for your area from the extension service or a local nursery.