Plan now for a Colorful Spring with Bulbs!

by Lee Kaibel

As we enjoy late blooms and foliage in the last few warm weeks ahead, many gardeners find fall is the time of year to reflect on the summer and the beauty of their garden.  Or, for some it is the time to plan fall clean-up chores that will need to be done as the season changes.  But for many of us this is the time of year excitement creeps in thinking about the next season – making additions, starting fresh, changing colors, and preparation to plant your spring bulbs.

If you want to have that burst of color in the spring from plants such as Crocus, Hyacinths, Tulips and Daffodils now is the time to pick your colors and plant your bulbs. Mid-September to mid- October is the optimal time to get your spring bulb planting done in Minnesota. Cool nights and warm days, along with ample moisture are the ideal conditions needed to get bulbs started.

The bulb world allows much to explore for both seasoned and fresh start gardeners.  Use bulbs to:

  • bring early color
  • expand your textures and
  • mingle with contrasts or harmony

Bulbs are versatile.  There is no limit to the number of places bulbs can be planted:

  • for gardeners who like to start fresh every year, plant bulbs annuals and till them  in to the soil after the blooms have faded
  • many bulbs return year after year if you are a gardener who likes consistency
  • bulbs pop in glorious color as spring emerges when planted in a naturalized setting or scattered throughout your lawn
  • planting spring bulbs in your rock gardens will bring soft colors to the hardscape
  • don’t be afraid to plant bulbs under trees that are shaded in the summer - because the trees have no leaves in the spring most bulbs will get enough sun to come back next year long before the leaves emerge
  • planted along walkways and as borders
  • in mass-plantings from a small group of 5 to 10 bulbs to a large group of hundreds of bulbs

What do bulbs need?

  • well-drained soil and
  • a lot of sun

Popular, easy to grow spring bulbs include:

  • Crocus, Zone 3 to 9. Crocus are the first to bloom, most often in April and will continue to bloom even when hit with a late spring snow. Plants get 4 to 6 inches tall.  Plant bulbs about 3 to 4 inches into the ground and cover with about 2 inches of mulch. Make sure you plant in well-drained soil or bulbs will rot.  Immediately after planting make sure to water bulbs. Fertilize into soil surface in spring after bulbs have bloomed and before foliage has yellowed.  Crocus are a brilliant yellow, white or purple.

Crocus

  • Hyacinths, Zone 4 to 8. Hyacinths will bloom shortly after Crocus in mid to late April depending on soil temperature and location of the bulbs. Plants get about 8 to 10 inches tall.  Plant bulbs about 6 to 8 inches into the ground and cover with about 2 inches of mulch. These bulbs should be planted in well-drained soil and watered after planting. Fertilize into soil surface in spring after bulb has bloomed and before foliage has yellowed.  Hyacinths come in beautiful colors and have a great fragrance.

Hyacinth

  • Daffodils, Zone 3 to 8. Daffodils will bloom from April to May. Plants will get about 12 to 20 in height. Plant bulbs about 6 to 8 inches in ground and cover with about 2 inches of mulch. Be sure to plant in well-drained soil and water in bulbs after planting. Fertilize into soil surface in spring after bulb has bloomed and before foliage has yellowed. Daffodils will naturalize open wooded areas. Daffodils are deer resistant.

Daffodils

  • Tulips, Zone 3 to 8. Tulips will bloom from April to June depending on if they are early, mid or late. Plant will get about 12 to 24 inches tall. Plant bulbs about 6 to 8 inches in ground and cover with 2 inches of mulch. Do plant in well-drained soil. Do water in bulbs after planting. Fertilize into soil surface in spring after bulb has bloomed and before foliage has yellowed. Tulips come in a rainbow of colors and have a large variation of flower shapes.

Tulips

Give your garden a jump start in the spring by planting spring bulbs this fall.

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