Spring Bulb Planting Q & A
Soon you'll have leaves to rake and mums to plant, so spring flowers are probably the farthest thing from your mind. But by planting bulbs this fall, you can set the stage for a show-stopping color explosion next year.
Q: How do I plant spring bulbs?
A: The easiest way is to dig a flat-bottomed hole about 12 to 18 inches wide and drop several bulbs into it. Plant large bulbs, such as tulips and daffodils, about 8 inches deep in well-draining soil, 6 inches in heavy. Smaller bulbs, like snowdrops, crocus and scilla, should sit about 5 inches deep.
Plant the bulb's pointy end up, and don't worry about fertilizing. Just give them a good soaking after planting. Mulching can be beneficial, but wait until the ground freezes lightly.
Q: How can I create the most impact with my bulbs?
A: Here are three simple planting rules you can use to get the most from your bulbs.
- Plant in clusters. This concentrates the colors, making them look like bouquets.
- Plant shorter bulbs in front. This is a good rule for bulbs that bloom at the same time, such as grape hyacinths and tulips. However, if the low-growing bulbs bloom early and the tall late, plant the taller-growing flowers in front. Their display will camouflage the dying foliage of the smaller bulbs.
- Plant a double-decker. Plant small bulbs right on top of large bulbs. If they flower at the same time, it creates a colorful two-tone effect.
Q: How soon after buying bulbs should I plant them?
A: Plant bulbs when you get them, but not before cooler fall temperatures arrive. Six weeks before the ground freezes is ideal.
If summer lingers, store your bulbs in the crisper of your refrigerator until cooler temperatures return. Just be sure to keep the bulbs away from fruits, which emit a gas as they ripen that's harmful to bulbs.
Q: What should I do after the flowers fade?
A: It's important to keep the leaves on the plants until they brown, or 6 weeks have passed since blooming. The leaves feed the bulb so it can flower next spring.
Clip tulip blooms after they fade so they don't go to seed, but leave daffodils alone.