Create your Spring Garden Early with Bulbs!

As we get further into fall, the gardener inside of me gets sad. I miss spending time out among my flowers. The fall rains are providing the water they need, and the birds are busy picking the old flowers clean of their seeds. The wind is blowing the leaves over the plants – prepping the garden for winter! I don’t have much to do anymore!

Fortunately, I can get a head start on my spring garden and get to do some more digging in the soil by planting spring blooming bulbs! These bulbs will get a head start on the growing season and be ready to bloom as soon as those first warm days of spring hit.

To plant your bulbs, dig a deep hole (4” for small bulbs like Crocus and Grape Hyacinth, and 8” for larger bulbs like Daffodils, Hyacinth, or Alliums) and place the bulb gently at the bottom with the root side sticking down. As you dig your hole, it’s a great idea to dig a little deeper and wider, then fill it in with compost and other soil amendments (like bone meal, bio-char, kelp, alfalfa pellets, and organic mulch or pine chips) as necessary – if you are going to do this step, be sure that you are mixing and adding only what’s necessary so as to avoid burning or over saturating the bulbs!

Siberian Squill have such tiny bulbs and don’t need to be buried as deeply as other bulbs.
Hyacinth bulbs like being DEEP in the ground, making it…. interesting…. to try to transplant their bulbs!

As you continue to back-fill the hole once you’ve placed the bulbs in, fill it, but don’t pack it down. You want your bulbs to be able to breath and not rot away immediately! Water immediately to help stimulate root growth. The next step is the hardest (at least for me, anyway)…. Wait.

As the winter snow starts to melt away, you’ll start to notice small green leaves poking up through the surface of the soil. Sometimes, with flowers like Snowdrops or Crocus, they might even have the ability to grow up through the snow (click here to learn more about late winter/early spring flowers)! These colorful blooms will be sure to bring a smile to your face as you see evidence that winter is ending. 

These iris heads will eventually fade away, leaving long, blade-like foliage. Trim away the flowers, but leave the leaves!

Remember to help your bulbs store energy to last through the winter by only deadheading the flowers and NOT cutting back the leaves. Yes, the leaves may not add a ton of late-season interest, but as the leaves undergo photosynthesis, the plant will store the energy produced in its bulb. As winter drags on, the plant will use the energy stored to stay alive and start producing spring growth.

What are your favorite bulbs (or rhizomatic/tuber) that show up in the spring? Let me know in the comments below! Want to keep the colors of your favorite flowers around even into the grey winter months? Add some botanical art to your walls by clicking here to visit my print shop!

Bloodroots are wonderful, small flowers whose leaves hug the flowers and appear first. They have long rhizomes (not bulbs) that stay close to the surface of the soil.

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