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Planting Fall Bulbs

Flowers emerging in springtime from tiny little bulbs planted in the fall is one of the all-time great miracles of nature. When you hold a few tulip, daffodil or crocus bulbs in your hand, it's a great way to prepare for the arrival of warm weather.

These bulbs hold the power to produce a profound array of colors with just a little sunshine, water and some tender care.

If you're new to gardening, it will help to think of the primary way of dividing plants and flowers: annuals and perennials.

Early Snowdrop Glory of the Snow

Annuals are flowers that bloom only once and stay for just a season. An example is the red poppy. If you go to the nursery in spring, buy some plants already blooming, plant them in your garden or window box, and they die in the fall, and that's it.

Perennials keep coming back year after year. They don't die each fall, they just go dormant until the spring weather warms them again. Bulbs are perennials and need to be planted in the fall. They'll provide you with blooms year after year.

Winter Aconite White Magic Muscari

When you see a garden with a clump of iris or tulips or daffodils that is bushy and thick with flowers, you know those bulbs were probably planted a few years ago.

Before you start planting bulbs, make sure you've got the right spot marked out because unless you dig them up they will be in your garden for some time to come.

Planting Preparations

When you dig the holes for the bulbs sprinkle fertilizer granules before dropping in the bulb and replacing soil. Add plenty of water as you fill back the hole.

The nursery where you buy the bulbs will have instructions to how deep and how far apart they should be planted, but as a rule of thumb, you should plant large bulbs 8 inches deep, and 6 inches apart. With small bulbs 5 inches deep, 3 inches apart with all pointed ends up.

Snow Crocus Mixture

It's a good idea to add 3 inches of mulch to hold in moisture and protect the bulbs from extreme and/or drastic changes in temperatures.

When you choose bulbs keep in mind size and color of the blooms. They should have photos of the flowers on the packaging.

In most cases smaller bulbs produce flowers that bloom earlier in the spring, and the flowers are small, like snowdrops or crocus.

The larger bulbs, such as tulips, bloom later and produce larger blooms. Make sure the bulbs are firm, clean, and free of mold.

The best time to plant is after the first frost, so the bulbs will stay cool throughout the fall and winter.




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