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Gardening: There’s a Fall Chill in the Air. It’s Time to Think Spring

When you can no longer sit out in the evening without a fire pit to warm you, it’s time to plan for spring. Everyone wants bright cheery flowers telling us winter is finally over. Well, such welcome beauties grow from bulbs planted in the chilly weather of fall — late October and November. 

Horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio

Horticulturist, Sandra Vultaggio

To get some great planting ideas for a spring garden, we spoke with Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant at Suffolk County’s Cornel Cooperative Extension, who has some great tips on planting bulbs.

“When to Plant Spring Bulbs

Gardeners wait until the fall to plant their spring bulbs. Waiting until the soil temperature has dipped to about 55°F is ideal. Usually this corresponds to overnight air temperatures cooling to around 40 – 50°F.

 

Which Bulbs to Plant

Deer-Proofing Your Garden

Deer-Proofing Your Garden

Considering the deer population on Long Island, I would recommend choosing bulbs that the deer tend to avoid.

I suggest planting daffodils, allium (ornamental onion), hyacinth, grape hyacinth and crocus.

Though not actually bulbs, you can venture into some of the other tuberous perennials like peony and tall bearded iris as well.

 

 

Grape Hyacinth: These beauties can make beautiful edging to other spring flowers.

Grape Hyacinth: These beauties can make beautiful edging to other spring flowers.

 

Crocus: These beauties are often the first flower you see in spring. And they return year after year.

Crocus: These beauties are often the first flower you see in spring. And they return year after year.

 

Best Soils for Bulbs

Bulbs grow well  in many different soil types but the one site they won’t enjoy is heavy, poorly draining soils. Ideally you should plan to plant in soils that are organically rich, slightly acidic, well-drained sandy loams or loamy sands.

Spacing the Bulbs When Planting

As far as spacing, bulb depth and so forth, all of that information is provided as part of the growing instructions for each bulb. Planting depths even vary between varieties, depending on if you have a large “trumpet” variety, or the small ‘Tete A Tete’ varieties. Most bulbs will enjoy a sunny garden, but will usually perform well in a partially sunny garden as well.

Should You Compost

Compost is not necessary to layer on top. If you feel your soil is lacking organic matter, you will be better off incorporating compost into the top 6” of soil before planting. Mix bonemeal or superphosphate with the soil at the bottom of the planting hole, or incorporate it into the soil around each bulb’s planting hole.

What Tools Will You Need

As far as tools go, to make the job easiest is to buy a bulb planter. This is a metal garden gadget that you stick in the ground, pull it up and out comes a cylinder of soil. Place the bulb, right-side up into the hole, and cover back up with soil. If you don’t have a bulb planter, and garden trowel will do just fine. Short on time? Dig larger holes and place a few bulbs in each hole so the flowers come up in clumps.”

Ms. Vultaggio’s Spring Garden: ‘Tete a tete’ daffodils brighten the horticulturist’s spring yard.

Ms. Vultaggio’s Spring Garden:
‘Tete a tete’ daffodils brighten the horticulturist’s spring yard.

 

Spring Flowers Inspiration:

Spring Flowers Inspiration:

Note from Deck and Patio: Ms. Vultaggio’s comment on Audrey Hepburn reminds us that one of the episodes on the actress’s series on world gardens covered tulips and spring bulbs. 

These beauties are some of the first heralds that spring has arrived. It’s no wonder that Ms. Hepburn and the producers of “Gardens of the World..” chose them as a focus of an episode — and that they are one of the horticulturist’s suggested bulbs.

Our thanks to Sandra Vultaggio for her helpful spring gardening ideas. The weather, by the way, is perfect on Long Island right now  to start thinking of spring! Happy Planting!

 

 

Fall Planting Tips: Color Interest for All Seasons

The color and the delicacy of flowers inspire us in every season. As winter fades, for example, even when leaves haven’t yet appeared on the trees, blasts of color from Crocuses, Daffodils, and Tulips lift our spirits.

The best time to plant the bulbs that will raise up such spring glory is just around the corner — late October to early November. However, you might want to first ensure there’s color and textural interest right now.

For tips on how to ensure color for all seasons, Deck and Patio’s own Marc Wiener, ASLA, Director of Sales and Construction, offers some key planting tips:

 

Why Fall is the Best Time of Year to Plant:

Foreground: Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon

Foreground: Purple Allium Sphaerocephalon

Fall is the ideal time to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials when floras slowly begin their dormancy process. “They require less watering because the temperatures are cooler during the day and overnight,” says Marc.

“In addition, watering is typically less because they are using less energy to push foliage and roots; although the first two weeks are critical to ensure they get proper watering to ‘heal’ themselves in for the winter.”

 

Adding Fall Annual Color Interest Right Now

Hardy Mums outside The Deck and Patio Design Center

Hardy Mums outside The Deck and Patio Design Center

 

Decorative Peppers (Photo Hicks Nursery)

Decorative Peppers (Photo Hicks Nursery)

“Many of us use annuals to provide color when certain plants are no longer in bloom,” says Marc.  “Kale, Cabbage, Decorative Peppers, Mums, Cyclamen, etc. are great color producers for fall and will last well into several frosts before dying back to the ground.”

Marc adds that it’s important to add compost to these plants so they get plenty of food while they are blooming. If you are planting cold hardy mums, they require water every other day as they have profuse flowers and use up a lot of energy and will require additional watering if there’s isn’t sufficient rainfall.

 

Housekeeping Your Plants

Photo: Berkshire Botanical Garden http://bit.ly/1KWYPW2

Photo: Berkshire Botanical Garden http://bit.ly/1KWYPW2

“Early fall is also a good time to prune your plants,” says Marc. “Be careful not to prune too late into the fall as frost can damage the stems that have been cut if they haven’t calloused over — inadvertently causing the tree and/or shrub to not bloom or have significant die back.”

 

Planting Bulbs in Fall for a Beautiful Spring

Parrot Tulips

Parrot Tulips

Bulbs are a inexpensive solution in providing very early color in your garden beginning in early March through late mid-June.

“The best time for planting bulbs is late October, early November,” says Marc. “Bulbs, such as Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinths, Allium, Crocus, Lilies, etc. all add their own unique color, texture, height, sun and shade tolerance; and some have fragrance (i.e. – Hyacinths),”  says Marc.

He adds that how you install bulbs is probably the most important aspect of ensuring they flower in the following spring. “Each type of bulb has it’s own specified planting depth and spacing. It is extremely important that you follow this rule (see following depths) — if not, the bulbs will not flower or may not leaf out. In addition, the pointy tip of the bulb must be planted straight up; otherwise the bulb will definitely not perform as intended.

Planting Depths for Spring Bulbs

Alliums: 8 inches

Crocus: 3 inches

Daffodil: 6 inches

Hyacinth: 7 inches

Tulips: 6 inches

 

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

 

Tulips

Tulips

 

Thanks to Marc Wiener, Deck and Patio’s Director of Sales and Landscape Construction,  for his tips today!

 

Marc Wiener, ASLA

Marc Wiener, ASLA

 

(Note: All photos are by The Deck and Patio Company except where indicated.)