As we enjoy the gorgeous fall colors, it’s time to think about next spring’s color. I just finished planting spring bulbs in several spots that had no color last spring because my perennial flowers were still asleep. I decided to incorporate more bulbs this year to solve this minor design issue. Spring flowering bulbs provide early and continuous color in the landscape with very little effort on your part. And when planted in the right locations, will multiply each year!
In addition to adding color, I rely on different bulbs to tell me what stage of spring or summer we are in and signal what needs to be done in my landscape. Crocus and snowdrops bloom first, so I know weeds will soon follow and it’s time to for my spring application of pre-emergent. I also know that more cold weather is still coming and a spring snow is likely. This means that I still have time to transplant any trees, shrubs or perennials that I was unable to get to during the fall.
Daffodils typically follow about three to four weeks after the crocus and snowdrops, indicating it’s time to prune back my ornamental grasses, Russian sage and butterfly bush. This is also when I start my weekly watering regime. Weekly deep watering during the low stress, early spring helps promote deep rooting for all plants and lawns, just as they do during the fall. Daffodils in bloom also tell me to plant my tender bulbs – cannas, gladiolas, dahlias and freesia, to name a few.
Grape hyacinths, tulips and hyacinths follow and let me know that watering my lawn should be more regular and in keeping to the Truckee Meadows Water Authority guidelines. Winter storms are unlikely but the threat of frost is of course to be expected. These blooming bulbs also remind me to check if my lawn mower is working properly.
Allium are the last spring flowering bulbs to flower, typically in late May and June. They mark the beginning of warm summer months and remind me to feed all my bulbs with Dr. Earth Bulb Food, Fish Bone Meal or Bone Meal to help them store up energy for next spring. And perhaps they are telling me to go to Tahoe.
Bulbs have uses besides indicating the climate. Hyacinths and paperwhites are perfect air fresheners for your entire home. Paperwhites are the simplest, and when using the glass bulb vase, will also serve as a great education tool for young aspiring gardeners. Hyacinths are for the more dedicated bulb person since they will require a shady spot in your yard or a section of your refrigerator to meet their chilling requirement. Standard hyacinths require about ten to fourteen weeks of temperatures at 35 degrees Fahrenheit. This can be accomplished in a cold frame in full shade, a bulb pot healed into a deposit of mulch, or even a section of the refrigerator.
Bulbs can be stored in a cool location until ready to plant, so do not wait to purchase them. The quality of the bulb is very important to its survivability and quality of bloom. My father was always sending away for inexpensive bulbs he found in magazine ads. When they arrived, which was usually late, he would call me to help. These bulbs were always small, low grade bulbs which no retailer would dare to sell, not even a discount store. Bulbs should be firm and large, the bigger the better. Often when I visited my father to help, I took an assortment of bulbs that I purchased from my local garden center to plant as well. The next spring it was easy to tell which ones my father ordered versus the ones I brought – the flowers on his bulbs were always smaller and sparser than mine.
So visit your favorite Moana garden center and select bulbs that complement your plant palette. If you don’t have much space or the ground is frozen, you can always plant bulbs in a container which you can bring inside once they’ve started to bloom. We’re happy to get you started with your own love affair with bulbs – you’ll thank us next spring! My last tip is to be sure to plant bulbs with Dr. Earth Bulb Food, Fish Bone Meal or Bone Meal to ensure big, beautiful blooms. Remember, great spring color is as simple as DIG, DROP, DONE! Click on link for details.