Planting bulbs is a cost-effective, low-maintenance way to add beauty and color to your yard, porch, or balcony. If you're in the mood to spice up your exterior landscape, all you need are a few dedicated hours to decide what you want, prepare the area, and plant.
Soon, you'll have a blooming garden that'll take you on a kaleidoscopic journey through the seasons. Following a few straightforward tips will put you on the path to this vivid adventure.
All four seasons have growing options, and different flowers require different starting points. If you plant too early or too late, certain bulbs may not sprout or reach their full potential. Taking a few minutes to research what you have will ensure a great crop. Learning about the basics of blooming will help you decide how you want your garden to grow, providing a wealth of color and life for much of the year.
Spring bulbs, like crocuses and daffodils, are hardy and require an autumn planting to go through their winter dormancy. Generally, they should be in the ground from September through early January, depending on your planting zone. The cooler the zone, the sooner they need to be planted. Just make sure to do it before the first frost.
Summer bulbs like lilies and gladioli can't handle frost. Once the ground warms for the season, it's time to plant. Late March through June are the best times, again depending on the zone. Autumn and winter bulb planting comes after this, so reference your zone and flower for the ideal outcome.
For beginners, start with basic flowers like tulips, dahlias, or hyacinths, then expand your range once you feel comfortable. After you decide what you want, select your bulbs. Online ordering is convenient, but it's nice to see and feel what you're going to grow before buying. Bulbs should be firm, like a healthy head of garlic. Stay away from anything soft or moldy.
Bulbs can grow in a number of habitats. From meadows and under trees to boarders and even pots, they're willing to sprout anywhere as long as the conditions are right. They require a well-draining soil that's a bit loose and sandy, as this prevents rot while offering nutrients.
Plenty of sunlight is a must if you want perennials to last. In shaded areas, they won't gather enough energy to flower the next year.
Once you figure out where to plant, determine how to plant. This is where your creativity comes into play. Do you want a colorful mix, or would you prefer grouping the varieties together? Are your bulbs going to be mixed with fillers like dusty miller or pansies, or should you emphasize minimalism? For optimal results, get your layout mapped out before you plant.
Prior to planting, you have to prepare the soil. Make sure it's clean, level, and free from other growth. Aerate it with gardening tools or your hands to a depth of around ten inches, then add some compost. Mix this well so your bulbs have a continuous supply of nutrients while maintaining a loose area for root growth and water drainage.
Adding specific bulb fertilizer is okay, but not necessary if the soil has enough organic nutrients.
As a general rule, bulbs need to be placed two-to-three times deeper than their height. Bulb planting tools come highly recommended when contending with high-volume gardening. For smaller jobs, they're convenient, but a hand trowel works equally well.
Place the bulb in its hole with the tip facing the sky; this sounds obvious, but sometimes it's easier said than done. Even if they end up on their sides, they should still be okay. Then, cover up the hole, add a thin layer of mulch if you want, and make sure to water them well.
Planting bulbs in pots offers a lot of potential for those with little-to-no land area. As long as you have sizable pots with adequate depth and drainage, you can create a masterpiece of an arrangement.
Layering, also called the lasagna method, is a great option that will give you amazing color for months. Begin with the late bloomers first. Put them in at a depth of around eight inches. Add several inches of soil and plant another row. Continue doing this, transitioning so the earliest bloomers are on top. Cover them with soil and optional mulch, then water till the soil is moist.
The lasagna method works equally well with in-ground and raised-bed planting. But if you're into a neat and organized look, grow large-to-small. Put the biggest plants in the back so you'll end up with a beautiful, tiered display.
Random scattering, where you toss the bulbs onto the ground and plant them where they fall, is a fun and eclectic option. Also, planting them in grass works by just lifting a square of sod and tucking the bulb underneath. Spacing isn't a huge determining factor with bulbs.
If you've properly prepped your soil, your seasonal maintenance will be fairly simple. Occasional watering is all you'll need to do to keep the soil moist.
Annuals require no additional fertilization, as their bulbs store the required nutrients. Perennials take in more soil nutrients, so occasionally providing them with an inorganic fertilizer is a good idea. Only do this during the growing months though, and be sure to not add too much since a high concentration can burn the bulbs.