Growing Guide: Fall-Planted Bulbs
Fall-planted bulbs produce the first blooms of next year’s season. The bulbs spend the winter making roots and come up early in the spring.
So if you think that autumn’s the time to stop gardening, think again! It’s bulb-planting time!
Tips for Planting Bulbs
In the fall, you’ll find bulbs to purchase everywhere! Make sure you buy your bulbs from a reputable nursery, garden center, or catalog. Second-rate bulbs product second-rate flowers or don’t sprout at all. Plant anytime before the ground freezes. In the lower South, where you may not have hard freeze, early November is a good time to plant.
In the warmer South, note that some bulbs need to be treated as annuals instead of perennials (e.g., tulips); they’ll bloom once and then they’re done. Still, they are a beautiful sight to behold and worth it! Other bulbs (e.g., daffodils) will act as perennials and come up year after year.
Ideally, plant your bulbs soon after you purchase them. Select a site with lots of sun and well-drained soil. Work a few inches of compost in the soil. Plant bulbs generously in case some do not sprout. And plant them in random order and spacing for a more natural appearance. If you love groves of daffodils and blanketed landscapes of tulips, be prepared to buy and plant a large quantity of bulbs!
In general, plant bulbs at a depth of three times the width of the bulb. After planting, apply fertilizer low in nitrogen, such as a 9-6-6 formulation. If your soil’s sandy, plant bulbs slightly deeper; in clay soils, slightly shallower. Water well after planting. Apply mulch to keep the weeds down and hold in moisture.
Do you have voles or chipmunks? Consider planting your bulbs in a “cage” fashioned with chicken wire.