Twig Tips by Jodie

Posted on November 20, 2015 by jo

A Bit about Bulbs

Here it is, just before Thanksgiving and it is hard to think about next spring. It's seems so far away.  But now IS the time to think about it if you want lots of color when it finally gets here.  Flowerbulbs can add so much unbelievable excitement and beauty to the spring landscape.  We all look forward to buying our summer annuals in May but we can't plant those until after the danger of frost has passed.  If we plan ahead and spend a little $ and time now, we can enjoy another month or so of color when that blessed season arrives.

TULIPS Tulips come in a bazillion different colors which is the most awesome thing about them.  They can be single, double, frilly, fringed...you name it.  Bloom times can be from early to late, and by mixing them up, you can have weeks of color.  The bad news...our Hoosier summers are too warm for them to retain their vigor, so they usually need to be re-planted every couple of years.  AND the deer like 'em.  You can help them come back by removing the spent flowers as soon as they fade, snapping off the top 3" of stem to prevent seed formation.  This focuses energy on bulb growth. 

 

 DAFFODILS Dafs, also known as Narcissus (named after that Greek dude that was in love with himself) are the easiest, most dependable bulbs to use around here.  The deer don't like them/eat them, the squirrels leave the bulbs in the ground alone.  They can naturalize and are pretty good about coming back year after year.  They come in different sizes, a couple of different colors and bloom times.  This one is WAY easy, every yard needs some.

 

 

CROCUS  Crocus, those itty-bitty, teeny-tiny little bulbs that pop up very early are just too cute aren't they?  Sometime we see them as early as mid-February.  Because crocus are so small, it's a good idea to plant a grouping of them where they will be seen, like close to a front step, near a mailbox, or along a walk.  Crocus don't offter the varieties or bloom times that dafs and tulips do, but planting a few of them is definitely worthwhile.

 

 

  HYACINTH  The hyacinth is not used extensively because it is another one that needs to be replanted after a couple of years.  BUT these beauties can smell up an entire yard if you plant enough of them.  They produce large, tightly packed flowers the first year but in subsequent years will produce looser, more airy blossoms.  I suggest that you just plant a nice grouping of them, again somewhere where you will see them and be able to enjoy their lovely fragrance.  Or cut a few and bring them inside, you won't be sorry.  They can also be potted in a container and forced to bloom indoors. 

 All bulbs need to be planted in well-drained soil, at a depth between 2-6" depending upon the species.  Light mulching is beneficial, as well as fertilizing after the flowers fade but before the foliage dies back.  It is VERY important to leave the foliage as long as possible to help them store food for the next year.  This is not particularly attractive so I suggest planting bulbs in your ground cover beds or go ahead and plant your annuals between them to disguise the browning foliage.  Daylilies are good companions to bulbs, their foliage does a good job of hiding drying leaves. 

Planting bulbs delivers psychic value across three seasons (now I sound like a shrink, don't I?)  You get a participator feeling after planting in the fall (Wow, I'm tired, wet, cold and dirty, these things better come up!)  Then you experience some winter anticipation (Wow, is it ever going to warm up, I can't wait to see my bulbs!) and lastly, the spectator feeling arrives (Wow, I did this, it is so beautiful! Darn, I'm GOOD). You will find yourself continually admiring your work and you won't be the only one...your neighbors will most likely be watching too, thinking you are such a SHOWOFF, but I promise you they will have a smile on their face.   

Off to plant my favorite dwarf red tulips - Jodie

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