Frankly, everyone loves the first sight of bright cheery flowers that tell us winter is finally over. Well, such welcome flowers grow from bulbs planted in the chilly weather of fall — late October and November.
For planting ideas, we spoke a while back with Sandra Vultaggio, Horticulture Consultant, who had some wonderful tips on planting bulbs.
When to Plant Spring Bulbs
Waiting until the soil temperature in fall 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 in Fall
“We have a considerable deer population on Long Island,” says our own Dave Stockwell. “And we agree wholeheartedly with Sandra who recommends choosing bulbs that the deer tend to avoid.”
Such plants she recommends includes daffodils, allium (ornamental onion), hyacinth, grape hyacinth and crocus.
“And though not actually bulbs, you can venture into some of the other tuberous perennials like peony and tall bearded iris as well,” adds Sandra.
Best Soils for Bulbs
Sandra adds that bulbs grow nicely in many different soil types. But the one site they don’t do well in is heavy, poorly draining soils. Ideally you should plant in soils that are organically rich, slightly acidic, well-drained “sandy loams or loamy sands.”
Spacing the Bulbs When Planting
If you are not using a landscaping firm like Deck and Patio to do the planting, it’s comforting to remember that all of the spacing information, etc. 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, says Sandra. 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,” she adds. “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, adds Sandra, 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, she says.
We also asked Ms. Vultaggio what inspires her about spring flowers. She concluded today’s tips with: “Audrey Hepburn said ‘To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.’ I agree that when you plant this little brown bulb in the soil, you plant the hope that you’ll see it break ground and bloom in the spring.”
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.