Planting Bulbs in the Fall
By: Brent and Becky
Spring can be a challenging time for our patience as gardeners. On one hand, it’s the time of rebirth, when all the snow and cold weather melt away to spring sunshine and warmth. But it’s also the stretch of time where things look brownest and most desolate before new Spring shoots start to show, and certainly weeks before we can think about planting in the cold ground. Our gardens need their time to wake up from their Winter slumber but we can have a hard time waiting as our yards melt to reveal bare dirt and puddles.
Planning Ahead for Spring Color
When it’s still cold enough at nights that you can’t plant tender annuals, and your perennials are rough around the edges, our desire for Spring to arrive is strong! It’s Fall, the perfect time to start planting your early Spring color!
Some of our favorite bulbs are Spring bloomers that will flourish before the rest of your garden is ready to wake up. Spring crocuses, and early daffodils are classics that many of us want to bring into our garden, but some gardeners aren’t sure how to make it happen. With a little planning ahead, it’s actually very easy to set yourself up to have brilliant, head-turning color as the rest of your garden is just waking up:
Choosing Fall Bulbs - Which Are Best?
When you’re choosing bulbs for your garden, keeping your climate and zone in mind are the most important details. By knowing your planting zone and sticking to plants, bulbs or seeds that are hardy within that zone, you highly increase your chances for those plants to perennialize, or return, for more than 1 year. For gardeners in the warmest and most southern areas, you might need to consider buying pre-chilled bulbs to plant closer to Spring to get the same effect of spring bloomers without having a cold Winter for them to hibernate in. But don't anticipate them coming back well for a second year, if at all.
Gardeners that feel a little bold can usually stretch their garden care to take care of a bulb that is a little outside of their zone as long as they baby it with mulch, overwintering, or within a micro-climate. For example, a thicker layer of mulch, digging up and storing, or planting near a North facing wall that holds onto the sun's heat. Those pining after a specific flower just outside their zone can put the extra effort in to realize their dreams.
The idea of these Spring bulbs is that you plant them around the time of your average first frost date, forget them, and enjoy them later. It really couldn’t be easier. Then, your bulbs will be blooming in the Spring before the leaves of the trees come out in full force, so you don’t need to fear the shade that deciduous trees could cast.
To plant Spring bulbs, typically plant them at 3xs the bulb height deep, Tulips 4xs the bulb height deep. Sink your trowel down and pull it towards you to create a space. Drop your bulb - pointy side up - into this gap and cover with soil. Repeat until you’ve planted a group of bulbs in an area. While one bloom doesn’t have that much effect, 6-10 sprouting in the same area is enchanting. Some believe that odd numbers are best. Honestly, it's up to you.
While most bulbs will do fine without any extra help, sprinkling bulb food into the holes as you plant can give them an extra boost. Or do what we do...top with compost! After you plant, water thoroughly.
In areas that don’t have the chilly winter to help their bulbs hibernate, planting in the Fall might not give the same spring growth that you are looking for. For beautiful, classic Spring bulbs, opt instead for pre-chilled bulbs that have been chilled into hibernation, and are ready to plant and bloom closer to Spring.
Growing Spring Bulbs
When your bulbs start to poke through the soil and snow in the Spring, it’s like finding a forgotten 20 dollar bill in your pocket! Your investment in the Fall will pay off as the Winter melts away.
Your bulbs are flowering, but once they are blooming they require the same care routine that the rest of your garden would. Water occasionally if you aren’t seeing much regular rainfall, and enjoy their delightful shades in your otherwise bleak early spring garden.
Your bulbs won’t completely vanish after blooming. The leaves often remain and can look a little unsightly as the rest of your garden catches up growing. If you want your bulbs to keep blooming next year, try to resist the urge to trim. Wait for about 2 months after blooming, or until they begin to yellow, to cut back the foliage, giving the bulb the ability to feed itself through photosynthesis, energy it will need for next year’s bloom.
Spring bulbs are a treat for any garden and are like an espresso shot for your backyard in the Spring. They’re a wonderful way to get you excited for the growing season to come in Spring and Summer, and they’re beyond easy to add to your garden with a bit of planning this year. Get started this Fall for amazing results!
View our selection of Fall Planted Bulbs:
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