Monday, April 22, 2013

Bulbs: Fall Planting, Spring Beauty

Bulbs are often feared by the armature gardener, however, they have proved to be one of the easiest garden ventures yet. A little bit of hard work and planning now will have beautiful payoffs in the spring and will continue year after year with minimal effort. 

Bulbs should be planted from October to December or when the temperature is consistently below 55 degrees but before the ground freezes. Planting bulbs when it is too warm may cause early blooming and may damage the bulb.

Bulbs come in many sizes, shapes and colors. Some fall planting varieties to look for include tulips, daffodil, hyacinth, grape hyacinth and crocus.  These can be purchased through a reputable mail-order company or a local garden center. Once they are planted, there is little work involved.

They look spectacular when planted alone, in a row or for a strong impact, in a large cluster. Their beauty is also magnified when planted with perennials. They will not only provide color before the perennial sprouts but also help cut down on weeds.

Forcing Bulbs

Forcing bulbs is a rewarding way to get beautiful blooming flowers in the middle of the winter. You may use tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinth or whatever you can find.

The bulbs must then be planted in an all purpose potting soil with the roots facing the bottom of the container. The top 1/3 of the bulb may stick out the top of the soil if desired.

The container must then be placed in a cool dark place for 8-12 weeks, about 42 degrees. The refrigerator works great for this, but be sure not to store fruit at the same time because the release of ethylene gas will kill the flowers. You may also use a cool porch or a cold room in the basement.

Your bulb is living so don’t forget to water it while in cold storage.  About every 1 1/2 to 2 weeks should be fine. Do not over water.

Finally pull your bulbs from cold storage about 4-5 days before desired bloom time. You can time them to bloom for special occasions.  After your bulb is done blooming you may plant it outside for yearly blooming. 

Reminder: Don’t cut the foliage from the bulb when it is done blooming. It is the food for next year.

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