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Spring and Fall Bulbs

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Okay let me get this straight....Spring flowering bulbs are called "fall bulbs". And, summer and fall flowering bulbs are called spring bulbs?   ....... That's exactly right.

Okay, let me get  this one straight, too.....not all bulbs are bulbs. Some are "corms". Others are "Rhizomes". And, others still, are called "tubers" and "tuberous roots". ....Right!?! Well, not exactly. But, most people fondly refer to all of these plant varieties as "bulbs". Many people don't know the difference. Others, just use the word "bulbs", as a convenient term when talking about this group of  plants. Unless you are a botanist,  calling them all bulbs is okay with us.

To see beautiful, flowering bulbs in the spring, you have to plan ahead. One of your last chores in the fall, will be to plant bulbs which will bloom in the spring.  Most people hardly consider it a chore. They look at it as one last chance to get outdoors and garden before winter snows arrive. To plant them, you need an idea of how you want to lay out the flower garden, some of your favorite bulbs, a bulb planter, and bulb fertilizer. The best time to plant fall bulbs, is six to eight weeks before the first frost in your area. If you can't plant them during this time, don't worry. Plant the bulbs as near to this time as you can.

Prepare the flower bed  Pull all the weeds from the area. Then, turn the soil over, breaking up clumps of soil and loosening the soil as well.  If this is a new flower bed, it is a great time to add peat moss and compost, especially if the soil is a hard clay. If you are working in a low or wet area, bring in a little extra soil. This will slightly elevate the flowerbed and improve drainage. Most bulbs do not like to sit for long periods in wet, soggy soil.

Select a  planting pattern for your bulbs Assuming you have selected the bulbs you want to plant, you need to decide how you want to arrange them. Use your creativity. Before you dig, use small sticks as markers, to assure proper spacing and design.

Dig the hole with a bulb planter or small garden trowel. Each type of bulb has a desired depth range. Plant them too deep, and they can't break through to the surface in the spring. Plant them too shallow, and the bulb can  freeze and die over the winter months. The rule of thumb, is to plant them at a depth that is twice the diameter of the bulb.

Place the bulb in the hole For new growers.... the root side goes down, and the pointed side up. You can't imagine how many new growers ask this question. If you didn't know, there's no ne for embarrassment..... you are in good company.

Slightly cover the bulb with soil Then add a fertilizer specifically formulated for bulbs. Follow the directions on the box for the proper amount to use. Cover the bulb the rest of the way with more garden soil.

Add a thin layer of mulch, if desired. Do not use heavy bark. If you apply mulch thickly, you may need to remove some of the mulch in the spring, to allow the bulbs to pop through. We do not recommend mulch for small bulbs, like crocuses.

Important: After your flowers have died in the spring, it is important that you do not immediately pull them up, or cut off the leaves. For a few weeks after flowering, the leaves are converting energy from sunlight,  and sending food to the bulb for storage and use next spring. There is not a lot of excess food storage. So, the leaves need as much time as possible to be productive next year.

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