Plant now for a spectacular spring flower show
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After the drab months of winter, there’s nothing like a dazzling display of colorful flowers to lift everyone’s spirits. Plant bulbs now so you can enjoy the show this spring!
A dormant tulip bulb doesn’t look like much, but come spring, it can reward you with a dazzling flower display. Plant several dozen and you multiply the delight! Spring flowering bulbs provide a much-needed shot of color after our long winters. However, in order to fill your garden with spring blooms, you need to plant your bulbs in autumn.
Plan for successive blooms
Read bulb packages or catalog descriptions to see if they bloom early, mid-spring or late in the season. Select some of each to create a flower display that lasts from March through May. Some bulbs come in varieties that bloom early, mid-season and late.
Bloom times for common spring flowering bulbs
Early: Siberian squill, snowdrops, crocus, winter aconite, tulip, daffodil
Mid-Spring: muscari (grape hyacinth), hyacinth, daffodil, fritillaria, tulip, daffodil
Late: allium, blue bells, tulip, daffodil
Select healthy bulbs
A robust bulb can bloom for years, which is what makes bulbs so attractive to gardeners. You plant once and enjoy blooms again and again and again! Avoid bulbs that feel soft, are completely dried out or have mold.
Bulbs are sold in packages at many retailers and can be a good buy. However, garden centers often sell them in bulk where you can select the best bulbs. Choose large, firm and blemish-free bulbs to get the most for your money and planting efforts.
Plant until the ground freezes
In West Michigan, we have a fairly long period for planting bulbs. Once the ground temperature cools to 55°F, it’s a good time to plant bulbs. There’s no need to rush, though, since you can plant them until the ground freezes. And, if you wait until later in the season, you can buy bulbs on sale.
A tight cluster of bulbs is more aesthetically pleasing than a straight row or bulbs planted far apart. Bunch your bulbs to achieve masses of color.
Select a place where the soil drains well. A bulb that sits in water will simply rot. If needed, mix in compost, sand and peat moss to lighten the soil.
Read the bulb’s label to determine sunlight needs. Keep in mind that in early spring your yard and garden will get more light before the trees leaf out. Areas that are shaded in summer and fall are often a good place for bulbs if they have sunshine in spring.
Also, follow the label directions on planting depth. Generally, bigger bulbs like tulips and daffodils are planted 8 to 10 inches deep. Small bulbs like grape hyacinths only need to be under 3 to 4 inches of soil.
Look forward to the show
When the winter blues start to settle in, remember that your dazzling beauties are preparing a show for you underground. Imagine the first green tips poking up and then the show of red, yellow, orange, blue, pink or purple that will follow. This will surely help chase the blues away.
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