Imagine a spectacular show of colorful blooms announcing the arrival of spring in your garden next year. It takes only a little planning and a minimum of effort. Choosing the right bulbs and planting properly are the keys to a colorful spring show.
Planning for color
To keep your garden interesting all season, you want bulbs that flower, in the early, middle and late spring. So you need to plant a variety of bulbs in order to have a continuous showing of color. For example, crocus, snowdrops and hyacinths are early bloomers ready to greet you with their green-tipped shoots even before the snow melts. The middle of the spring brings out the nodding daffodils, narcissus, and vibrant colored tulips. Larger flowering hybrid tulips are at their peak in late spring along with bluebells, iris and allium. Find out when each bulb blooms and then select a combination that will carry your garden through the entire season.
Planning your spring look
Draw up a layout of your garden on paper. Use spring bulbs to accent perennial beds, create a border or fill in the corners of rock gardens or paved areas. Include large displays of one color to make bold statements. Mix short plants with tall plants to give variety and depth. Naturalizing, planting bulbs at random, can make your garden look as if Mother Nature did all the work. You literally “throw out” the bulbs and plant them where they fall — around trees, fences, and on the lawn. Layout your spring display so you can enjoy the colors from your windows. You should also plan your bulbs in clusters of 8 – 10 for a spectacular garden accent. Keep in mind a solid group of flowers will show up more than a row of single blooms. When planning, don’t forget fragrance — Hyacinths blooming near a window or door can fill the air with the aroma of springtime.
And don’t forget bulbs for forcing indoors. Bulbs that force well such as Hyacinth, need a long cold period, about 13 weeks in a cool dry spot, but will reward you with a display of spring color well before the first crocus blooms outside.
Take your plan with you when you shop. Choose bulbs that are firm and not overly dry. Be sure to pick up some bulb booster, a fertilizer that helps the bulbs develop a strong root system. Check the directions for height of the mature plants, spacing between bulbs and the planting depth. If you’re worried about planting the bulbs the wrong depth, you can buy an inexpensive hand or foot bulb planter with depth measurements marked on the outside.
Most bulbs need average soil and good sun in order to bloom. Prepare your bed by digging out the soil to the proper depth. Loosen the soil and add a sprinkling of the bulb booster. Position the bulbs and firm them gently in place with the pointed side up. Cover loosely with soil, water lightly and add a layer of mulch. Finally, add a marker indicating the type of bulb you’ve planted.
Planting time can vary depending on your location, but here in the northeast it ranges from September for as long as the soil can be worked, usually around Thanksgiving. Once planted, many types of bulbs will multiply over time and require little additional attention and reward you with a spectacular spring for years to come.