Plant bulbs now to enjoy next spring

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The 2015 gardening and growing season is winding down, but it’s not over yet! Now is the time to reflect on this past summer’s gardens and plan for next year, including planning for and planting hardy bulbs. Bulbs are easy to plant and care for and are highly rewarding. Read on for basic bulb planting guidelines and helpful tips.

Spring flowering bulbs like to be planted in soil that is 50 degrees or cooler. These types of bulbs need a chilling period to bloom the following season. Good to know now: if you buy bulbs but forget to plant them within the next month or so, don’t worry. It’s not too late to plant bulbs as long as the soil can be worked, even if there is snow!

Bulb supplies at Tonkadale GreenhouseBulbs like the same soil as many other perennial plants. If the soil is heavy or clay, mix in compost and peat to ensure good drainage and make it easier for flower stalks to poke through next season.

Most bulbs prefer full sun, but that doesn’t have to mean the full sun of summer. For early bloomers (such as crocus, daffodils, and even tulips), full sun can be in an area where deciduous trees leaf out later in the season. If this is the case, consider under-planting – plant bulbs near hostas or other shady perennials if there is full sun early in spring. As the flowering bulb starts to die back and the trees fill in, the hostas leaf out and hide unsightly bulb leaves.

Tonkadale carries a variety of bulbs: awe-inspiring allium, tulips to tantalize the eyes, gorgeous galanthus, iris, amaryllis (to enjoy indoors during winter), hyacinth, crocus, scilla, and more! Don’t forget about gourmet garlic (which doesn’t want to be planted until October) – it’s coming soon!

How to plant bulbs

  1. Plan. Bulb blooms look best in naturally scattered clumps or in mass plantings. Plant bulbs in groups throughout a perennial bed. Plant different colors and varieties together. Plant smaller bulbs over larger ones for a heavier effect. Be creative and have fun!
  1. Allim at Tonkadale Greenhouse

    Photo by Hokuzai, Wikimedia Commons

    Dig a hole. Use a trowel or bulb planter and dig 2-3 times as deep as the bulb is tall. Be sure to read the directions on the package, though, since some bulbs may require a different depth. Add bone meal or bulb booster to the hole.

  1. Drop the bulb. Teardrop-shaped bulbs should be planted tip-side up, flat bulbs should be planted flat side up. Look for roots – if there are any, plant them facing down. If it’s hard to tell which way is up just plant the bulb sideways.
  1. Dust and douse. Spread bone meal or bulb booster over the newly planted area and water in. Be sure not to overwater – this can cause bulbs to rot.

Time to plant!

One more tip: fall is also the time to dig up and store tender bulbs. Dahlias, gladiolus, cannas and more must be dug up, properly stored, and planted again next year.

For more information visit the University of Minnesota Extension website:

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