Bulb Bloomin' Crazy

Most bulbs love 65-degree spring days and lots of moisture, preceded by a cold winter dormancy. So how do gardeners in the Deep South get around those requirements?
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Using a mixture of bulbs, including tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, extends the blooming season for continuous color.

Using a mixture of bulbs, including tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, extends the blooming season for continuous color.

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Most bulbs love 65-degree spring days and lots of moisture, preceded by a cold winter dormancy, but gardners in the deep south don't have the same So how do gardeners in the Deep South get around those requirements?

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A great way to enjoy spring bulbs is in container plantings, no matter where you live.

A great way to enjoy spring bulbs is in container plantings, no matter where you live.

Jimmy Turner of the Dallas Arboretum explains that we just have to change our way of thinking about the life span of a bulb. In Texas, he treats them as annuals. "Tulips just don’t perennialize in Texas. They won’t come back every year," he says. "So we just put them touching, bulb to bulb, and get as much color as quickly as possible." That way, for six to eight weeks in the spring, he gets a beautiful burst of color that is a real traffic stopper.

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When planting bulbs, Jimmy digs a hole twice as deep as the bulb is high and just dumps in the entire bag of bulbs.

When planting bulbs, Jimmy digs a hole twice as deep as the bulb is high and just dumps in the entire bag of bulbs.

When planting bulbs, Jimmy chucks the standard rules. Rather than planting each bulb individually five to six inches apart as the rules recommend, Jimmy digs a hole twice as deep as the bulb is high and just dumps in the entire bag of bulbs. He does point the bulbs sprout-end up, but his bulbs are tucked in tight, touching right up against each other.

When does Jimmy usually plant spring bulbs? Even in Texas, bulbs are planted between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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Pansies, violas and snapdragons are all good companion plants for bulbs.

Pansies, violas and snapdragons are all good companion plants for bulbs.

This same planting procedure will also work for some of the minor bulbs like snowdrops, irises and anemones. And there are plenty of companion plants you can use to fill in the bed until the bulbs bloom, such as pansies, violas and snapdragons.

One final tip: If you’re storing bulbs in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, take the fruit out. Fruit like apples and oranges emit a gas that can damage the bulb's flower.

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