Initially, I didn’t have much luck with flower bulbs, but I figured out that I was doing it all wrong.
I kept the bulbs for too long unplanted, I didn’t store them right, and planted them way too late.
The results – nothing! So, I have developed some tips to keep you from the making the same mistakes.
How to Avoid Tragic Mistakes
Bulbs are interesting things of nature. They actually look pretty lifeless; however, storing them in drawers, on the kitchen counter or in a hot garage will actually work against them. Also, beware of storing them in the fridge, especially around fruit. Most bulbs do not react well when exposed to the gases that are naturally put off by fruits.
Flower bulbs need to be stored in a dark and dry area and at a temperature between 50° and 60°F. You are better off planting them as soon as possible. The ground presents the best storage option.
Tips for Planting Your Flower Bulbs
Know when to plant
Most bulbs require a cold period in order to develop sound roots, so it is best to plant them in the fall. If planted about four to six weeks before the ground freezes, your bulbs will be ready to emerge in the spring. Planting at the beginning of spring is probably the mistake most often made by beginners. I can tell you, spring planting didn’t work for me.
Prepare your soil
It may be necessary to test the soil and to add organic matter and soil additives designed for bulbs to produce the best results.
The depth that bulbs need to be planted depends on the size of the bulb. As a general rule, the hole or trench that they are planted in needs to be two times the size of bulb. For instance, if the bulb is 3 inches wide, they need to be planted 6 inches deep.
Planting the bulbs
It is a good idea to plant a bundle of the same type of bulb together in one hole or trench with 1 to 2 inches between small bulbs and 3 to 6 inches between large ones. It makes for a more effective flower garden design .
The bulbs need to be planted with the pointed end up. They will grow when they are planted upside down; however, the position will stress them out and they won’t grow as well or blossom as soon as they would if planted right.
Water the bulbs generously after they are first planted. It is a good idea to cover the flower bed of planted flower bulbs with garden mulch which will control temperature and moisture during the winter months. Come springtime, the plants will start to appear.
The greatest threat to flower bulbs come from cute (and sometimes not so cute), bothersome rodents. Mice are the not so cute ones, but squirrels and chipmunks also dig up the bulbs and eat them. I guess they get them mixed up with nuts!
There are a ton of wives tales about how to protect your bulbs against such rodents – some qualify for cruelty to animals. The reasonable ones include covering the bed with mesh, such as chicken wire, using a rodent repellent or to plant daffodil bulbs among other bulbs that are tasty to the varmints. They actually despise daffodils and sometimes that can act as a deterrent.
Care for Subsequent Years
Most flower bulbs turn out to be perennials; however, sensitive plants – like the amaryllis- are better off being brought inside and stored during cold winters, otherwise, they will likely not last for more than one season. This type of bulb is called a “tender bulb” when compared to “hardy bulbs” which are better off being left in the ground year-round.
After the first year, for best results you will need to fertilize your flower bulb garden – once in the beginning of spring and once in fall before winter sets in. The flower bed can be fertilized using compost or a commercial flower fertilizer designed specifically for bulbs.
Flower bulbs multiply, which is awesome; however, if the space gets overloaded, flowering will decrease or stop altogether. Usually after a few years, the bulbs need to be divided. It is best to divide bulbs in the fall.
To divide, you simply use a shovel and dig up the clumps and separate the bulbs. You can replant some of them with appropriate spacing and plant the other somewhere else, or give them away to neighbors that have sad looking yards. Why not brighten up your neighborhood!
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