planting bulbs in fall leads to spring flowers

Are you interested in seeing cheerful Daffodils (sometimes referred to as Buttercups or Jonquils) and colorful Tulips blooming in your lawn next spring?  With the cooler temperatures upon us and everyone getting ready to settle inside to stay warm and cozy throughout the winter, it is hard to think about future landscape designs.  But now is the time to start planning for spring blooming bulbs.  The soil temperatures are approaching the ideal temperature for planting bulbs. Most bulbs should be planted when the nighttime temperatures are consistently in the 40’s. In Spring Hill, Franklin and Columbia, that’s from now into December. Much later and you may find frozen ground. Also, the tulips and daffodils may not get the long, cool period they need in order to bloom in the spring.

Planting & Fertilizing

Tulips, daffodils and other large bulbs need to be planted at least 6” deep in the soil. Smaller bulbs can be planted shallower.  A good rule of thumb to follow is that bulbs should be planted 3 to 4 times the height of the bulb. When planting bulbs, plant the bulb with the pointy end up.  If you are unsure on recommended planting depth, read your packaging for specific instructions. 

Once you have your hole dug and the bulb placed and covered, add a bulb fertilizer into the soil around the bulbs.  Do not put it directly in the hole with the bulb. A balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10 and bonemeal that is high in phosphorous is a good choice. There are also fertilizers sold as “bulb food” that contain superphosphate or bonemeal that can also be used.

What Should You Plant?

One benefit of planting multiple bulb types is that you end up with a variety of colors over a longer time. Understand first that bulbs are categorized as hardy or tender. Daffodils and Tulips are in the hardy category. Hardy bulbs come back year after year. Other hardy bulbs are Asiatic Lilies, Allium, Snowdrops, Hyacinth and Crocus (which is actually a corm). For a real show stopper, consider planting bulbs in containers with Pansies or Violas planted on top.

What is the Difference Between a Bulb, Corm, Rhizome and Tuber?

Gardeners often make the mistake as referring to all plants with swollen underground plant stems as bulbs. In reality it could be a corm, rhizome or tuber.  These enlarged plant parts are what store the nutrients for the plant to use during the next growing season.  True bulbs are divided into layers like an onion and includes a papery outer layer. The bulb is comprised of a plant’s stems and leaves. Examples of bulbs as mentioned earlier are Daffodils and Tulips.

Corms are not divided like bulbs, they are solid. An example of a corm is Crocus.   Tubers are formed from a stem or root and multiply underground. They develop buds which sprout from the tuber similar to the ‘eyes’ on a potato. Anemone is an example of a Tuber.  Rhizomes, such as Lily of the Valley, often appear as just roots but they are actually modified, swollen stem-like structures that grow horizontally.  Buds form at different parts along the rhizome, not just the tip.

The Work Now is Worth the Enjoyment in the Spring

Hopefully, come spring you have many blossoms to enjoy! One more bit of advice to remember come spring is that you can cut the bloom stems off of the plants but do not cut the leaves until they have turned brown. Those leaves will be storing up nutrients for next year.  Instead, tie them up so they are not so messy and cut them down one they have turned completely brown.

Looking for help with your landscaping? Bear Creek Landscapes & Design are your local landscaping professionals. From planning to installation and maintenance, we offer free consultations and estimates for your home or business. Call us today at (931) 840-0030 or fill out our contact form to schedule your appointment.