Bulbs are amazing little store houses of life. Bulbs are perennials that have developed a fleshy growth as a storage system underground which allows them to adapt to and survive long periods of drought and then come alive as soon as conditions become favorable. The true bulbs are those of tulips and daffodiles, corms are similar to true bulbs such as in crocus, and tuberous roots are found in dahlias and iris. Although technically different structures, they all share a similar purpose and are therefore often grouped together under the general term bulbs.
As difficult as it sometimes seems, fall is planting time for spring bulb color. After gardening the whole season it can be hard to get motivated to plant something we will not see for many long months, however come spring you will be more than glad you did.
Join myself and The Garden Charmers to explore the wonderful world of Blooming Bulbs
Crocuses are one of the first spring bulbs to emerge from the cold earth having many colors and designs to choose, from solid to stripes. There are two main basic crocus types, wild species and common Dutch hybrids.
Common crocuses are generally larger than the species types and often produce up to 6 flowers per bulb and bloom slightly later. Wild species crocus are smaller with up to 20 blooms from a single bulb and often have unusual color blends.
Crocuses can be planted almost anywhere. They are excellent in rock gardens tucked in here and there. Naturalized in lawns is very effective and by the time you start mowing your grass the blooms will have faded and the fine leaves will have disappeared into the ground unseen. Plant a bright row edging the walkway or shrub border or plant in groups throughout your perennial borders. Combine them with other early bulbs such as Iris reticulata and Snowdrops.
When buying your bulbs in early fall only pick out firm, plump bulbs. Avoid those that feel soft or are already showing signs of green growth. You can plant your crocus right up until frost but a bit earlier is better to give them a chance to adjust before the ground freezes. Place your bulbs in either a full sun or part shaded site. They require only average soil but it must be well drained. If your soil is soggy your bulbs will rot. Try to plant them in large groups for better color power. Crocus grow in zones 3 through 8 and are disease resistant. Small at only 3-5 inches tall but still a pleasure to see come spring. Be sure to let the foliage of your crocuses die back naturally after blooming so the bulbs will be fed and come back to entertain you again next year.
The easiest way to plant such small bulbs is to dig a hole 5 inches deep and wide enough to hold a sizable amount of bulbs. Add a bit of compost and bone meal to your hole with about 2 inches of soil. Place your bulbs pointed ends up and about 2 inches apart. Cover the bulbs with the rest of the soil and gently tamp down with your hands, not your feet. Give them a good drink then forget about them until spring.
If you haven’t already planted your spring tulip bulbs for next season now is the time to do so. As long as your garden soil is still workable you can continue to plant your fall bulbs.
When planting tulips choose large healthy bulbs from the nursery selection. Make sure they are firm and there are no signs of mold.
When planting dig deep enough. Tulips should be planted about 6 to 8 inches deep. Most people plant their bulbs too shallow.
Plant your bulbs in groups of 5 to 7 bulbs of the same variety. Dig a hole about 1 foot in diameter and position all the bulbs together in the same hole. This always results in a bold statement of color, much more effective than single stems.
If you have chipmunk, mice or vole problems, add a bit of chicken grit around each tulip bulb to discourage their activity.
When planting tulip bulbs add a sprinkling of bulb food or bone meal to each tulip hole to feed the bulb throughout the winter.
Give your fall tulips a good watering and wait till spring.
Bulbs are not just for planting in the ground either. Planted up in pots they can be used to decorate your home. Heather from New House, New Home, New Life rescued some lovely white snowdrop bulbs and created a very attractive planter for her front entrance.
For larger flowers that bloom in mid summer try Gladiolus. Glads are not true bulbs but are actually corms, but for our purposes that’s close enough. Carol from The Gardening Cook will take you through the few simple steps required to grow big, beautiful glads in your garden.
The Gardening Cook also shares with us how to grow another beautiful plant that is also a corm. That would be Liatris, a great plant for keeping the bees happy.