Bulbs are the earliest blooming flowers in the garden blooming as early as February or early March. Bulbs can be used in the perennial garden where they can complement other early flowers. Planted in the lawn or beneath deciduous shade trees, bulbs can provide your property with spots of vibrant colors.
Though bulbs prefer sun they can grow beneath the canopy of deciduous trees. In the spring, before the leaves develop, the sun can filter though the tree's branches. However, while they’ll grow best in the sun, those which are exposed to direct sun during the hottest part of the day are subject to shorter periods of bloom. Bulbs prefer organic well drained soil and will tend to rot if grown in poorly drained soils such as clay. To grow in poorly drained areas amend the soil down to 1 foot. Adding coarse textured organic mulch and compost to the soil will increase its drainage ability and add nutrients to the soil. Another solution is to plant them in raised beds created with well drained soil.
Bulbs, like perennials and annuals, should be deadheaded after they flower. Removing past blooms will prevent the bulbs from forming seed heads. This allows bulbs to put all of their energy into next year’s growth. Wait until the foliage turn brown before you cut the bulb back to the ground. Bulbs receive their energy through their foliage from the sun. This energy is stored below the ground in the bulbs until the following spring.
Wait until the weather is cooler in October and November to plant your bulbs. When you purchase them be sure they are firm rather than soft, bruised or moldy. If you don’t plant them right away be sure to store them in a cool dry place until you do. Generally, bulbs are planted at a depth 3 to 4 times the width of the bulb. Be sure to check when you buy for specific planting instructions. I like to plant bulbs in large masses for clusters of color. Cover the planted bulbs with about 2 or 3 inches of bark mulch to help the soil retain moisture and to reduce the growth of weeds in the garden.]
Every few years some bulbs begin to get crowded and need dividing. Bulbs can be dug up after the foliage turns brown and can either be planted immediately or stored in a cool dry place until they’re planted in the fall.
Bulbs can usually be depended on to provide the garden with early spring color. Sometimes, however, bulbs fail to bloom profusely. This can be the result of too much moisture, too much shade or overcrowding. It can also be the result of removing the foliage of the bulbs too soon or improper planting techniques such as planting at the wrong depth.
Bulbs are among the easiest plants to care for in the garden. With some initial work you can provide your garden with early season color year after year. Spring flowering bulbs are a pleasant sight after a long winter and are the best sign of the wonderful things to come.