The first crocus to poke its head out of the snow is a sure sign that spring has come. But if you didn’t plant the bulbs properly, you may wait in vain for your flowers to come up. Here are some tips on so that your garden may be the envy of your neighbors next spring.
How to Choose and Store Bulbs
Look for the largest bulbs you can find. Daffodils and hyacinths tend to be the largest bulbs. Tulip bulbs and crocus bulbs are naturally tiny.
Sometimes, you will find a “baby” bulb – a tiny bulb attached to a larger one. This happens with daffodils a lot. Carefully break them apart and plant them separately.
Be sure to store bulbs in a cool, dark place such as a cellar. If you expose them to light, they may start growing before you can put them in the ground.
How To Plant Bulbs
Don’t plant bulbs until but before the ground freezes. Depending on where you live, you may be able to plant well into October and sometimes into early November. Keep an eye on the thermostat. If it’s too warm, your bulbs will start growing too early and won’t bloom next spring when they’re supposed to.
Plant bulbs in sunny areas or in partially shaded areas. Space them at least three inches apart. Plant them about one and a half to five times their depth, according to the Old Farmers’ Almanac.
A bulb planter will automatically dig down to the proper depth. Or you can use a trowel, if you prefer. No matter what tool you use, sprinkle a small amount of fertilizer or mulch in the hole with the bulb.
How to Protect Bulbs Against Pests
Look for deer-resistant bulbs. These will help protect the bulbs against becoming lunch for deer.
Daffodils are a naturally, occurring deer-resistant bulb. Deer don’t like the smell or taste of daffodil bulbs or the daffodil plant once it blooms. Other pests such as squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits also don’t like daffodil bulbs, according to the Farmers’ Almanac.
Plant a row of daffodils in front of other spring flowers you plant such as tulips. That way, the daffodils will “guard” the tulips and protect them from being eaten by deer or rabbits.
Another way to scare away pests is to sprinkle moth balls where you plant the bulbs. Do this immediately after planting because squirrels and chipmunks are actually attracted to soil that has just been dug up.
Moth balls will not hurt the bulbs. Don’t worry about your dog, a deer, rabbit or squirrel eating a moth ball. Animals can’t stand the smell of moth balls and won’t even come close enough to eat them.
If you live in an area with cold winters and snow, keep an eye out for when the snow starts to melt. Cold and snow weaken the smell of moth balls. Once the snow melts, toss a fresh round of moth balls down.
How To Keep Bulbs Blooming
Bulbs are supposed to last about two years but can keep blooming for many years if you don’t cut them down too soon after they bloom. Wait until you see a yellowish tinge on the plant before snipping the top off. This means that the bulb is storing energy for the next season, according to the Farmers Almanac.
Some gardeners wait until the plant completely dies before cutting it down. That’s OK to do. When you do cut down the plant, use scissors to snip it off or gently pull it off with your hands. If you pull the plant off, be careful not to pull the bulb up. If you do accidentally pull up a bulb or dig one up when planting summer flowers, just replant the bulb
If you follow these steps, you can look forward to flowers brightening up your front yard next spring.Then, you really will be the envy of some of your neighbors who wait in vain for their flowers to come up.
This article was based upon my own experiences of planting spring bulbs for more than ten years plus some information on planting daffodils gleaned from the Old Farmers Almanac.