Plant bulbs now for early season blooms
Lunceford on Landscaping.BY LU SNYDEROF NEILS LUNCEFORDWinters are long in Summit County – especially for gardeners. Planting bulbs in the fall is an easy way to bring the gardening season back with a bang of early color.
Plant bulbs now, after the first frosts have cooled the ground, but early enough that the bulbs have time to root before the ground freezes.A little planning and preparation can make the difference between a mediocre show of blooms and one that is vigorous and eye-catching. Choose a location that is sunny with well-drained soil. Bulbs can rot if there is inadequate drainage.Think about your desired effect. For example, you can choose bulbs that will flower simultaneously or in succession. Likewise, you can convey different moods by planting only one color, contrasting colors or a multitude of colors and flowers. Choose your bulbs accordingly, checking color, bloom time and flower height.
Try to purchase bulbs that look healthy. Avoid those that are moldy or otherwise damaged.Plant bulbs with the tip pointing up. Planting instructions should be available with the bulbs, indicating the recommended depth and spacing. In Colorado, where we experience drastic temperature fluctuations, it’s best to plant your bulbs a little deeper than those general recommendations. If planted too shallow, your bulbs may sprout too early, only to be killed or damaged by an ensuing freeze or cold spell.Amend your soil with compost before you plant. Consider spraying your bulbs with a rodent deterrent, such as Bobbex, to discourage voles and chipmunks from eating your bulbs during the winter.
Add a fertilizer to your soil as you plant your bulbs. Choose one high in phosphate, such as blood or bone meal or super phosphate. (Warning: Dogs may be attracted to bone or blood meal). Press the soil as you cover the bulbs, to remove any air pockets. Add two to 2″ to 3″ of mulch to the surface of the soil to retain moisture and protect the bulbs.Once planted, bulbs need little care. Water them occasionally throughout the fall and winter, when there is little to no precipitation. In Summit County, bulbs typically bloom in May or June. You may have to cover the blooms during late-season snowstorms.
Cut the flowers back once they’ve died, but don’t cut the leaves back until they’ve died-back completely. If you find the dying leaves unsightly, fold them in half, wrap and tie them. You can also cover them with mulch so they are completely out of sight. Bulbs are an easy way to bring early color to your garden. They will bloom year after year, if cared for properly.LU SNYDER is an employee of Neils Lunceford Inc., a local landscape and design company based in Silverthorne. She can be reached at (970) 468-0340.
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