Tutorials & How-To's

Plant Bulbs now for a Vibrant Spring

Our hot summer had almost done me in, constantly dragging hoses to keep my new landscape alive. Finally after over 45 days over 90 degrees and less than 1/2 inch of rain in August & September, October brought rain! Yay!!

I was especailly happy since my order of  tulip and daffodil bulbs arrived on my doorstep October 15th.  Thanks to a few welcome rains, the ground was soft enough tto start planting them today. Late October through November is the perfect time to plant spring blooming bulbs in our Piedmont Triad. If you plant too early while the ground is very warm your bulbs sprout too quickly and can get damaged by freezing temps.  But right now, they will slowly settle in, grow roots and give you that welcome first burst of color to wake up your garden come March and April.

Crocus and daffodils/narcissus are the earliest to bloom with hyacinths right behind them.  These bulbs are fool proof additions – they all thrive and multiply in our Piedmont Triad gardens. Critters don’t eat them because they are poisonous.  Before the ground freezes, plant bulbs with the pointed side up, 2-3 times as deep as the bulb is tall. Aesthetically they look best planted in large groups vs straight rows. Choose a location where the bulbs will be fairly dry during thier dormant season, perhaps a place you do not irrigate in summer.

Tulips light up Nanny Foster’s spring garden

Tulips give a flashy show of color in spring too but you will have to protect these tasty bulbs and foliage from voles, squirrels, ground hogs and deer. Even if they are not eaten, tulips planted in the south do not rebloom well the second year.  The exceptions are some of the “Darwin hybrid” tulips, and especially the robust little species tulips like T. clusiana, T. linifolia and T. kolpakowskiana which seems to be the best ones for multiplying and reblooming in our area. That said, tulips are so pretty it may be worth planting them regardless! Treat them as annuals and enjoy the show.

Where to buy spring bulbs?  Local garden centers and big box stores still have them in stock now but HURRY before they run out. You can also order them online. Good choices include Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, Van Bourgondien, Color blends and Brecks.  If you are browsing catalogs, its OK to get excited about alliums, snowdrops and Spanish blue bells. These are all lovely, reliable choices for your garden too.

Happy Gardening!

Ellen Ashley
Garden Writer, Speaker, Educator, Consultant


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