Spring Bulbs in Bloom

After a dreary winter, we all love to see the first flowers of spring sprout forth and display their beautiful flowers. There are many varieties of bulb flowers to plant in the fall such as tulips, hyacinth, daffodil, narcissus, corn lily, Spring Starflower, Glory of the Snow, and anemone. These bulbs bloom early in the spring. Not all bulbs are planted in the fall. Bulbs planted in the spring will bloom in the summer and bulbs planted in the summer will bloom in the fall. Be sure and read the label to see when the flower should be planted and when it will bloom.

Bulbs are modified stems that develop underground. The bulb is the source of the food and water for the foliage and flowers. Fall bulbs should be planted after the nighttime temperatures reach 50 degrees and before the first frost. Make sure the bulb is planted with the pointed side facing up. Bulbs should be planted about 5-6 inches deep- 3-4 inches apart for small bulbs and 8-10 inches deep- 5-6 inches apart for larger bulbs. The size of the bulb indicates the height that the flower will grow.

If you are unsure of the depth to plant, the planting depth should equal three times the diameter of the bulb. Small bulbs will have plants that are 8-12 inches high where larger bulbs could have plants growing to 12-16 inches in height. I usually plant bulbs in groups because the cluster of flowers at blooming time is more attractive than a single flower. Just a suggestion, you may try planting bulbs together that will flower in the early spring, summer, and fall. You will have a continual colorful garden all year.

Most bulb plants need full sun. Morning sun is the best with some shade in the afternoon. Afternoon shade can prolong the lives of the flowers and help retain their color. Plant where the soil drains well as the bulbs could rot if left in soggy soil. If needed mix in some compost in the soil before you plant the bulbs. Do not put fertilizer directly in the soil as this may burn the roots when they emerge from the bulb.

Water the ground after planting the bulbs. Most bulbs are drought tolerant, and rainwater is sufficient. If it has not rained for at least 10 days, you may want to water sparingly. I have never had to water the bulbs after planting in the fall since the soil does not dry out in the winter months the same as summer. Mulch the area and wait for spring. Be sure to label the plant location.

After blooming, leave the flowers to die down naturally. As much as you would like to cut off the dead foliage, this will hurt the plant. The dying foliage contains food for the bulb to bloom the next season. You can fold the foliage over and tie them or use a rubber band to secure until the foliage is brown and totally dead. You can then remove dead foliage.

Bulbs do not have to be removed and replanted for 2-3 years. They will become over-crowded and then you will have a lot of plants but not are many flowers or large flowers. If you dig up the bulbs, you can divide them and store them in a net in a cool dry airy place until you replant in the fall. Dust the bulbs with mildew powder to protect it during storage.

Bulbs are easy to care for and will produce beautiful flowers every spring. Like other plants, bulbs can become vole or chipmunk food. So, if your plant doesn’t come up, dig it up and you may be surprised to find it have disappeared.

Diane Walton is one of many UGA Master Gardener Extension Volunteers of Cherokee County. For more information or questions contact the Cherokee County Extension Office at 770-721-7803 or for upcoming seminars follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cherokeemastergardeners or cherokeemastergardeners.com.

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