Plant Bulbs Now
By Paul James
Spring-flowering bulbs are, in fact, among the most carefree plants you can grow, and they’re pretty much pest and disease free. They’re also a snap to plant with a trowel, mattock, hori hori, auger bit, or specialty bulb planter. Once you get a rhythm going, you’ll be amazed at how fast you can get them in the ground.
And just what do I plant? Well, I’ve always been partial to daffodils. They come in a dizzying array of sizes, colors, and bloom times, and they’re one of the few bulbs gophers won’t eat. I also love Crocuses, Muscari (Grape Hyacinths), Iris reticulata, and Fritillarias. In recent years I’ve grown extremely fond of the Alliums for the big, bold statement they make, and pollinators love their flowers.
And then there are tulips. There was a time when tulips weren’t my thing, largely because with the exception of the Darwin hybrids, they tend to behave as annuals. But I’ve changed my tune in recent years. After all, even if they don’t come back, they’re so spectacularly beautiful that having the opportunity to enjoy them for a few weeks is better than not enjoying them at all.
There are also lots of so-called lesser or minor bulbs to consider as well, including Galanthus (Snowdrops), Leucojum (Summer Snowflake), Scilla (Siberian Squill), Puschkinia (Squill), and, my favorite, Camassia. If you’re planting bulbs anyway, you really should try a few of these not-so-well-known but beautiful bulbs.
Where space allows, I prefer to plant bulbs in large swaths or tucked in and around other landscape plants, especially evergreens, whose foliage provides a great backdrop for the emerging flowers, and in irregular patterns around trees. I’m not a fan of planting them in rows like soldiers on parade (sure hope my neighbor isn’t reading this).
But you have to get them in the ground now, or at least now through November. That’s because the bulbs have to be exposed to cold soil temperatures for several weeks to trigger the changes that cause them to bloom in spring. In other words, they have to chill or they won’t thrill.
So, sound the alarm. Tell your friends and neighbors. The time to plant bulbs is now. Or this weekend, anyway. After all, the forecast looks amazing.
Happy gardening, ya’ll.
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