Flower bulbs can produce some amazing flowers throughout the whole year for little care and effort once planted. This yearly display can start with the earliest flowering bulbs in the spring such as snowdrops and crocus and proceed into winter with bulbs forced indoors to bloom. These you can see available in stores around Christmas time.
For this article we will discuss flower bulbs as being most of the group of flowers that grow from enlarged underground masses that store food over the winter for the plant. In another article we will address the actual differences among all such “bulbs”.
Flower bulbs, if planted in a bed, need a soil that has good drainage. A sandy loam soil is ideal but bulbs will do well in just about anything short of cold clay soil, soggy spots and very rocky ground. Even amongst the rocks you can find pockets to plant some of the smaller flower bulbs. Adding plenty of organic matter always helps your soil as we have mentioned in other articles.
Some expert gardeners suggest a flowerbed where the bulbs will be planted should be prepared to a depth of two feet. This allows you to plant even the largest of bulbs to a good depth. But if the location is a low spot to which all other areas drain, and it holds water, this will not be a good spot to plant your bulbs regardless of how well you prepare the soil. Flower bulbs will readily rot where the soil holds water and is soggy.
Whatever spot you pick be sure it allows your flower bulbs to be in full sun. As most spring-flowering bulbs come up before the trees have their leaves, it may not be as great a concern for them. It is certainly a consideration when planting summer-flowering bulbs. Keep this in mind when planting near evergreens and man-made structures.
Some flower gardeners prefer to use bulbs to “naturalize” an area. To do this, you simply dig a hole big enough and deep enough for the bulb you are planting. You can also dig a hole big enough to hold four or five bulbs at a time. Put a little bulb fertilizer in the hole, place your bulbs in, replace the soil removed and cap with the sod you removed in making the hole.
And lastly the rule of thumb for planting flower bulbs is three times as deep as the bulb is big. You may wish to consider planting some bulbs even deeper. Barbara Damrosch of Theme Gardens fame prefers to plant her bulbs, especially tulips and daffodils, deeper at ten inches. She prefers this to keep them from sprouting in the fall, being worked out of the ground by the freezing and thawing of it, and also to help protect the bulbs from being eaten by animals.
© 2005, Sandra Dinkins-Wilson
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