| Oct 22, 2009

Back to HomeMaster Gardeners - October 22, 2009 Planting Bulbsby Ankaret Dean, Lanark County Master Gardeners

This is the season to visit the garden shops, to be tempted by all those boxes and pictures of spring bulbs. Many of us add to our bulb display every year. It is quite important to take photos or make a sketch of the whereabouts of your spring bulbs after they bloom as there is no evidence of the bulbs later in the season.

Bulbs like sunshine and hate to be in low swampy areas. They are happy if planted beneath deciduous trees, where they get dappled sunshine and are shaded from the hot dry sun, but do not like to be under evergreens. The leaves of every flowering spring bulb must not be cut off until they die back. This is because a bulb must obtain enough chlorophyll and energy to store up for the following spring. If it is impossible to do this, the bulbs may be lifted and replanted in a special area until the leaves die back. They can then be stored in a dry place and replanted the following fall.

Bulbs enjoy good soil and when planting, give each bulb a small handful of bonemeal at the bottom of the hole. Bulbs must be planted deep. Small bulbs should be planted with the top of the bulb two inches below the level of the earth. Daffodils, tulips and hyacinths, five inches below.

Several wild animals enjoy a meal of bulbs, so be prepared! The exception is daffodils and hyacinths. As a deterrent, bulbs can be covered with a fine wire chicken netting or something similar, and pegged down, or they can be surrounded by moth balls. Sometimes mice and squirrels inhabit the ground next to foundation planting or walls, so try to avoid those areas.

I plant my daffodils around my farm, as they are poisonous and safe from predators. I grow tulips in the large perennial beds where they seem to be safe.

As bulbs are long-lived, you can enjoy them year after year. I fertilize each clump after flowering with 10-10-10 fertilizer using a watering can. Some bulbs will naturalize and spread out; not all, so check the catalogues. Price depends on the size of the bulb, and it is usually a case of paying for what you get. Bulbs look best planted in groups of six or so. It is easier to dig a large hole and plant them all together.

For gardening information, call Ankaret Dean at 613-278-1203

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