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How To Get The Best Results Out Of Your Bulb Planting Efforts

By Lee Dobbins

Bulb planting can be one of the most rewarding things a gardener can do. There’s nothing quite like putting that bulb in the ground, and watching as it grows into the full plant it’s meant to be. As long as some simple ground rules (pardon the pun) are followed, bulbs grow easily and are very rewarding.

Bulbs can be planted either in the fall or in the spring. Fall planting would be the preferred time to plant because that gives the flowers an opportunity to adjust to their surroundings, set their roots firmly, and bloom earlier in the spring. If you are going to be planting in the fall, anytime from about late September to early November is appropriate. Sometimes, circumstances lead us to not be able to plant until spring, or we would just rather wait. If that is the case, it is best to plant as soon as the ground thaws if you live in an area that freezes. If the ground does not freeze, anytime beginning in about mid-April through mid-May would be a good time. Your bulbs will bloom later than those planted in the fall, but they will still put on an impressive show. Planting in the fall does put the bulbs at an increased risk of being exposed to freezing temperatures because they will begin to grow earlier in the spring, but it is a risk that most gardeners are willing to take.

The majority of bulbs should be planted shallowly. There should be enough of a hole to cover them completely, but they do not need to go far down in the earth. However, there are some, like daffodils, that like to be planted a little deeper. Refer to the instructions on the bag or box for just how deep your bulbs should be planted. Be sure to follow those directions so that your flowers are not adversely affected by too deep or too shallow of a bed. Be sure to fertilize and water thoroughly as soon as the planting is completed. The bulbs will need those nutrients to help them root into their new home.

If the bulbs have been planted in the fall, as the winter months progress, they will remain dormant in the ground. Therefore, watering and fertilizing further will not be necessary until the ground begins to thaw in the spring. At that point, when the weather is dry for a few days and watering becomes necessary, do so with a garden hose for five minutes daily while the weather remains dry. Otherwise, it is safe to let nature take her course with these flowers while they are in bloom.

When blooming has completed, though it can be tempting to cut off those empty flower stalks, wait until they have become yellow and shriveled. The stalk is still taking in important nutrients to the bulb, which is now preparing for the next bloom season. If the stalk is cut off while it’s still taking in nutrients, in the following season, the flower will not bloom as well or may not bloom at all. It is important to give those flowers the time they need to prepare for the next growing season.

Lee Dobbins writes for Backyard Garden and Patio where you can learn more about planting bulbs and flowers.

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