Start Spring with a Big Pop of Color
Apeldoorn Tulips | my own photo
Though the usual sequence is to plant the bulbs in the fall for bloom in the spring, some growers cheat the system by chilling those sold for spring bloom. This is necessary for Southern gardens which don’t get the required cold temperatures.
Presented here are some of the fine selections that you can plant in your own gardens to brighten up the Springtime with color and fragrance.
Find out if the small bulbs, tulips, or daffodils might be best for you.
Planting and maintenance tips, secrets to success, all included for your pretty garden.
A Healthy Look
What Fat, Healthy Tulip Bulbs Look Like | my own photo
These Are Always Planted In Autumn
Though planted in Autumn, Spring is the best time to make lists of varieties to order or look for when the season rolls around in late August.
Pick Healthy Bulbs
- The Dutch have perfected the bulb growing for ideal blooms.
- Most bulbs are shipped to stores and gardeners at planting time ,starting about September.
- Bulbs come in different sizes according to variety, but also due to quality.
- They produce 4.32 billion tulip bulbs annually, some of which will grow cut flowers.
Fat Bulbs: Heavy Means Healthy
Because tulips and other fall planted spring bubs are grown in Holland to ideal size, it is important to get the largest bulbs you can. Look for tight tunics (the brown skin), a feel of heavy weight for the size, to indicate freshness and health.
Although bulbs differ in look, they should feel heavy, since the lighter they are the more they may have dried out. When taking care to get the best bulbs, be sure to plant them promptly. This allows the roots to get a start on the winter.
When ordering online, the catalog should record the diameter of the bulbs offered, usually in centimeters. This is the way to gauge the quality of what is offered.
- 10 cm. minimum for tulips, 12 cm. is better
- Daffodils depend on variety and class, but look for those with 16 cm. bulbs for best results
- Not sure of size? Choose according to feeling of weightiness
Big impact from a small size: plant in large groups. Glory of the Snow
How to Plant and Naturalize your Bulbs
Put Those (Plant) Babies In The Ground
Bulbs are simply a storehouse which contain the baby plant in entirety. Everything needed for a beautiful blooming plants is right inside the bulb along with a storehouse of food for that year. This is why we can “force” bulbs for inside the house during winter months.
It also explains two other things: why forced bulbs are useless to plant in the ground and why we need to leave the foliage growing after blooming. The foliage is fattening up the storage bulb and creating the next year’s flowers.
First Steps for Fabulous Results
- Find a sunny spot- most spring flowering bulbs need full sunshine.
- Make sure the soil is well-drained. These bulbs will rot in soggy ground.
- Dig holes or a trench 3 x deeper than the bulb’s height.
- Sprinkle in the fertilizer.
- Plant bulb root (or plate) side down and cover with soil.
Add pretty color with old fashioned looking Triumph tulips. They are a bit shorter than Darwins, but their large flowers are held on sturdy stems.
These bulbs are grown to flower this spring, and don’t forget that they can look lovely in containers plantings, too.
Nothing says spring like a bunch of colorful tulips.
Plant them towards the front of the flower bed.They bloom mid-Spring.
Blooming Together for a Spring Garden Picture
Daffodils and grape hyacinths usually bloom together. They are just one example of the layering technique, where large sized bulbs are planted deeper with small ones are planted a few inches higher.
This produces a carpet of contrasting color for the larger blooms of Daffoils and Tulips. It is a favorite method of Dutch growers in their display gardens.
How to Mix Bulbs Together in Pretty Combinations
Check bloom times on bulbs for the greatest likelihood of pretty garden pictures.
Given the variability built into Mother Nature it still is no guarantee that the bulbs will all flower on cue. However, the upside of that truth is that sometimes many flower simultaneously with other plants that you didn’t expect.
This past winter delayed everything in my own garden, and provided quite a few surprises, but in normal years the inner clocks of the flowers are dependable.
The garden always surprises.
Good Floral Combos
- Small bulbs and earliest daffodils
- Early Kaufmanniana tulips with crocus
- Choosing two or three harmonious tulips of the same class
- Daffodils and Scillas
- Tulips and Hyacinths
My Favorite Spring Flower Pairings
Low growing perennials like Moss phlox (Phlox subulata), Iberis sempervirens, ‘Basket of Gold’ Alyssum at the feet of tulips are probably the best of the blossoming spring show.
The moss phlox and Iberis perennials are also attractive groundcovers all season long with attractive foliage that persists and smothers many weeds.
Moss Phlox with Red Tulips, and Yellow Daffodils
What Flowers Make You Think Spring?
While there are many perennials which flower in springtime, it is the Dutch flower bulbs like Tulips, Daffodils, and Crocus which most of us identify with the beginning of the new garden season.
In fact if you would choose an icon for the Spring, it might well be one of those blooms. Although they may not come first to mind, there are a plethora of other flowers that bloom from bulbs in the spring: Hyacinths, Frittilarias, Snowdrops, Glory of the Snow, Eranthis, and numbers of lesser known like the Alliums and dainty bulb forming Irises.
Start the garden out right with a plan that includes a display of these easy care bulbs with good looking perennial plants to bloom with them, or cover them later.
Afterwards, Cover The Ground With Perennials
I like to grow perennials with Spring flowering bulbs, not just to cover the dying foliage, but also as companions that bloom in tandem with them.
Low growing perennials are the classic pairing, Phlox subulata, Arabis, Basket of Gold are just a few. Forget-me-nots and pansies create bright, colorful panoramas of bloom along with the larger flowers of tulips and daffodils.
Another Landscape Idea for your Yard
Perennials that are slow to emerge will give the bulbs time to bloom and then cover the fading foliage. Hostas are ideal, but daylilies are better for sunny spots and keep the color going into summer months.
What Sort of Fertilizer Should I Use?
Add Long Lasting Fertilizer
Fertilizers such as bone meal or the special formulation sold for bulbs create perennial vigor and bloom.
Organic fertilizers are often slow acting and soil building which is just what bulbs like to produce gorgeous flowers.
Fertilizing for Bulb Maintenance
Be sure your flowers come back year after year and bloom to maximum results by adding fertilizer when planting and annually thereafter.
I personally prefer to add bone meal, which has a typical analysis of 3-15-0. The middle number is phosphorus which aids in root growth and promotes blooms.
Fertilize as you see the shoots emerge, and then after bloom each year.
Remember that roots are growing under ground in the fall, and that is another period of time to add slow release fertilizers.
The food that is formulated especially for bulbs takes out the guesswork.
Scilla Hispanica or English Bluebells Naturalize in Shady Places
Have you ever seen pictures of a river of blue flowers among trees? A lawn with an endless parade of spring flowers such as daffodils, or even a hillside covered in crocus? They probably did not get there by accident, but by the artful planting in a style called “naturalizing”.
Some bulbs will helpfully seed and multiply, but many need a gardener who distributes bulbs each year in a way that looks so unstudied that it seems as though it had to be Mother Nature.
It is easy to do. Simply choose the bulbs you wish to grow, a spot where they can be left alone after blooming (remember they need time for leaves to die down), and patience.
How to Naturalize
- Scillas and Chionodoxa are easiest to grow this way. Crocus is a little more difficult, because rodents may eat them and they don’t spread through seed in most gardens.
- I like to scatter the bulbs in the area I want to plant them, and then use a shovel or trowel to open the ground. Drop in the bulb with a bit of bone meal. Done!
- Under shrubs and trees when a neat lawn is required; in the lawn itself, if you don’t mind some weeks of shagginess for withering foliage.
- Along a driveway, mulched during bulb dormancy, is a pretty way to naturalize Grape hyacinths.
- In lightly wooded areas, on hillsides, within a shrubbery.
- 5 Best Small Spring Blooms
One of the ways I like to combine these small bulbs is to have a garden with all blues, naturalized in the grassy areas and under trees. A mix of Scillas, Glory-of-the-snow, blue Muscari, are a melange of blue color spilled over the ground
My Daffodils Multiply Every Year
Bulb Garden Maintenance
SECOND STEP FOR KEEPING BULBS BLOOMING THROUGH THE YEARS
- After bulbs bloom, snip off dead flowers, leaving stems.
- Allow all green parts to wither and die down, or lift bulbs and keep in a cool, dry place.
- Allow to grow in situ until bulbs no longer bloom well. Then lift, divide, and move.
- Don’t allow to go to seed unless they are minor bulbs which you wish to naturalize. Seed formation weakens daffodil and tulip flowering. Allow all strength of plant to go to bulbs.
- Lightly fertilize in following fall to help roots and plant prepare for next year.
Take off the spent flowers to prevent bulb strength going into seed production.
Spring Garden Harmony
Choose colors, heights, and bloom times
Fall Planted Spring Bulbs
|many colors,except blue
|6 to 8 inches
|mainly yellow and white, but also oranges
|6 to 8 inches
|6 to 8 inches
|6 to 8 inches
|blue, white, pink
|Minor bulbs: crocus,scillas,galanthus,iris,etc
|multi-colors and single colors
|3 to 4 inches
|rose, yellow, white
|3 to 4 inches
Quick color and planting depth chart
- International Bulb Society
all the FAQ concerning bulbs
Buy Your Own
- Five Steps to Dazzling Daffodils
- How To Plant Dutch Bulbs For Fabulous Spring Flowers
- What Is The Big Deal About Bulbs In The Garden?
© 2014 Ilona Erwin