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How to Choose the Right Bulbs for Your Bulb Garden

Posted on by admin | in Housekeeping

When you think about spring flowers you probably picture Tulips and Daffodils bursting with color in your garden, but did you know that to have these beautiful flowers in the spring, you need to plant the bulbs in the fall?  With some planning and forethought during the fall season your bulb garden can be overflowing with spring blooms that last for up to 8 weeks once spring rolls around.  There are many different varieties of bulbs you can choose from to create an eye catching spring garden that will impress your neighbors, and these tips can help you choose the right ones for your garden:

Choose a color combination- Bulb companies have developed many different colors of Tulips and Daffodils.  Tulips come in nearly any color you can think of, and some of the newer varieties are even bi-colored, featuring vibrant color combinations like red and yellow.  Daffodils, on the other hand, are available in fewer colors, and are most often found in yellow and white. There are some new varieties that are all white, orange and white, all yellow, and even some that are pale pink, and any variety of these colors can help add diversity to your garden.  While you don’t have to use Daffodils in your bulb garden, they can yield blooms for up to 100 days between February to May.

Research different varieties- Once you’ve decided on a color combination, you’ll want to research which variety of tulips and daffodils come in the colors you have chosen.  Besides just the colors you will also want to check out different types of tulips, such as single and double petal tulips. There are also fancier varieties with fringed petals that change colors as they grow.  While you do your research, make note of when each variety needs to be planted and when the bulb is expected to bloom.  When possible, opt to by your bulbs locally instead of ordering online. By purchasing them locally you’ll be able to hand pick the best bulbs.

Understand the bulbs- A bulb is a self-contained unit that holds the nutrients needed for the bulb to grow.  Select the healthiest bulbs you can find.  A healthy bulb will be large, heavy for its size, firm, and have a uniform color.  The size of the bulb is directly related to the size of the bloom.  By buying the largest bulbs you can find you will have big, beautiful blooms and your bulb garden will be that much more impressive.

Determine bloom time- Bloom time refers to when a bulb blooms, and it can vary a great deal depending on the bulb variety.  By planting bulbs that bloom at different times you can have a garden that blooms from February to May.  Keep this in mind when selecting bulbs.

Consider flower height- Once you have decided on the colors and varieties of bulbs you would like to use, take a look at how tall each variety grows.  You don’t want taller blooms blocking shorter ones.

Prepare the garden- A properly prepared bulb garden bed will have all of the weeds removed, the ground will be turned so that there is at least 6 to 8 inches of fluffy soil, and it will have been amended with compost to help with drainage.  Bulbs need good drainage because if they stay wet too long they will rot and not grow.

Plant the bulbs- Lay the bulbs out on the ground where you’d like to plant them to get an idea of how much area the bulbs will cover.  Bulbs should be about 6 inches apart, unless otherwise directed on the package.  Dig a hole that is 3 to 4 times deeper than the size of the bulb and plant it with the pointed end facing up.  Cover up the bulb with dirt and pat it down, but don’t pack down the soil.  Once all of the bulbs are planted, water the garden.  Be sure the soil is moist, but don’t water so much that you create puddles.  Cover the garden with a couple inches of mulch made of wood or pine needles to keep the weeds down.  The mulch will also help keep the ground a little warmer throughout the winter, which will in turn help the bulbs come up in the spring.

Tips – Other bulbs, such as Hyacinths and Crocus, bloom in the spring too and can add different heights and flavor to your bulb garden.  Crocus come up so early that they will often be seen blooming through the snow.

Make sure to check with your local garden center to find out when the best time to plant bulbs is in your climate.  Bulbs need a period of several weeks where the ground temperature is below 50 degrees F because if the ground warms up, the bulb may start to bloom in the middle of winter only to be killed by the next severe frost.  Southern states can create an artificial winter by storing the bulbs in the refrigerator and then planting them in the spring.

For stronger growth, mix in a slow release fertilizer, like bone meal, when you plant your bulbs.

Planting a bulb garden isn’t difficult, but making it the envy of all your neighbors takes a little planning and know-how.

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