Gardening with Allen

Bulb Planting Time

I would like to have more daffodils and tulips next spring. Is now a good time to plant them?

Spring-flowering bulbs are available in many stores now. Best selections are at full-service nurseries and garden stores. They can be planted any time from now to early December.

There are so many places to plant bulbs that you can never have too many. They do not have to be limited to their own space. I like to plant bulbs anywhere I plant annual flowers. You can plant bulbs between currently growing annuals. In the spring I plant my annual flowers between bulbs, even before the bulb leaves start to turn brown.

I also plant bulbs among perennial flowers. They are through flowering before most perennials have grown to full size. There are a few early blooming perennials such as rock cress, gold alyssum, and candytuft which bloom as early as bulbs. Even these early bloomers are compatible with bulbs if you choose the right sizes and colors.

I am very fond of ground covers because they are low maintenance once established. Bulbs add color when they come up through ground covers. For example, yellow tulips or daffodils are a very attractive contrast to bronze leaf ajuga. You can make holes for bulb planting between ground cover plants with a trowel or bulb planter. Or if your ground cover is very thick, a 3 inch hole for a bulb will be quickly filled in.

New beds for bulbs can also be created in front of shrubs, walls or fences. If spaces are not wide enough, expand them by spraying a section of grass with herbicide such as Roundup. You can remove the dead grass within 3 weeks, even if it has not turned completely brown yetBulbs multiply over the years. If yours have become too thick, you may want to dig them up and respace them. If you have trouble locating them now, make a note on your calendar to dig and replant next June when you still have leaf remnants to find their exact location.

The best pattern for most bulb plantings is clusters or clumps rather than single file rows. I prefer to plant individual colors and varieties rather than mixtures. If you plant more than one kind of bulb in a bed, check the heights, so you can plant the shorter ones in front.

Daffodils (Narcissus) are the best adapted to our climate and are the easiest to grow.  Hyacinths and grape hyacinths are also easy to grow. I plant a few of the less common bulbs to extend the blooming season. Crocus, snowdrops, chinodoxa, allium, and windflower (anemone) also do well.

Fall is also an excellent time to. plant ranunculus and summer-blooming Oriental and Asiatic lilies.

This is a good time to dig lily bulbs and move them to a different location or space them where they have become too crowded.

 

Allen Wilson

Allen has been writing about gardening for over 30 years. He is a retired professor of Horticulture. Additional gardening information is available on his web site: naturalpruningnw.com under "how to guide". A monthly email garden newsletter can also be signed up for on this site or by sending a request to allenw98663@yahoo.com.

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