Now that fall has arrived - and nighttime temps are in the 40-degree range - bulb planting season is officially here!
Before buying your bulbs, think first about wildlife. Gardeners complain more and more these days that rabbits, deer, elk and voles are chomping at the bit to chomp their bulbs. Fortunately, there are some things you can do, aside from renewing your hunting license, to protect fall-planted bulbs.
These bulb garden mainstays are less likely to be chewed up by wildlife:
> Daffodils are common in Colorado and generally easy to grow. We usually think of their cheery-yellow color, but they also come in shades of white, orange, pink and red.
> Allium blooms appear as an exotic-looking globe of small flowers perched on top of a long stem. The large-and-tall purple globes are common, but the flowers also grow at varied heights and colors that include white, pink and yellow.
> Grape hyacinth grows up to 8 inches and besides blooms in grapey purple, they also have blue, white and yellow flowers.
> Bluebells are another option for Colorado as low as Zone 4. They grow up to 20 inches tall.
Placing chicken wire or pea gravel over bulb beds can help deter voles and other wildlife from digging up your bulbs.
> Plant bulbs at a depth that's three times their height. Small bulbs like crocus must be planted shallower than bigger bulbs like tulips.
> Plant with the pointed end of the bulb facing up. If you can't tell the top from the bottom, plant the bulb sideways and Mother Nature will send shoots up and roots down.
> Add an amendment at the time of planting. Garden centers have specially formulated products that provide nutrients bulbs need as they develop.
> Recycle leaves as winter mulch for the bulb bed. Experienced gardeners guarantee you will be impressed with the results.
> Plant bulbs in groupings rather than single file in rows. Bulbs planted in a group create more visual impact when they bloom. And you can speed up the planting process, too, by digging a wide, round whole or rectangular trench and placing many bulbs in it at once. This method is faster than planting bulbs one at a time with a bulber tool.
Courtesy Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company based in Silverthorne that is a member. Contact them at (970) 468-0340.