Plant a Bed of Spring Bulbs
Harbingers of spring, bulbs transform sleeping gardens into oceans of color as the seasons turn.
When to Start: Mid autumn
At Its Best: Early to late spring
Time to Complete: 30 minutes for planting
- bulb planter or trowel
- chicken wire
- selection of spring bulbs
Prepare to Plant
All bulbs need well-drained soil, so if you have heavy clay, either dig in plenty of organic matter before you start or grow them in pots. You can either plant bulbs individually, using a bulb planter or trowel, or dig a wide hole and plant them en masse, which is an easier method and more naturalistic.
Dig a Hole
Dig to a depth of about 2–4 times the height of your bulbs. Place the bulbs in the hole with the pointed growing tip facing upward. Discard any that are moldy or soft.
Fill in the hole with soil, taking care not to damage the growing tips, and firm it down with your fingers. Cover with chicken wire to prevent animals from digging up the bulbs; remove it when the first shoots appear.
Snowdrops have tiny bulbs that dehydrate quickly and often fail to flower if planted in fall. Instead, buy pot-grown bulbs in leaf in the spring and plant them so that the pale bases of the stems are just below the soil surface. If you already have large clumps of snowdrops, lift and divide them in spring, after flowering.
For bulbs to succeed, you need to plant them at the right depth, usually two to four times the height of the bulb. Plant too shallowly, and they may not flower; too deep, and they might not grow at all.
Tulips prefer to be planted deeply, four times their own depth; a 2" bulb is planted 8 inches deep (image 1). Daffodils are planted three times their own depth; a 2" bulb is planted 6 inches deep (image 2). Plant grape hyacinths at three times their depth; a 3/4" bulb is planted at a depth of 2-1/2 inches (image 3). Alliums are also planted at three times their depth; a 1-1/4" bulb should be planted 3-1/2 inches deep (image 4).
Fields of Red Tulips
For bulbs to succeed, you need to plant them at the right depth, usually two to four times the height of the bulb. Plant too shallow and they may not flower; too deep, and they might not grow at all. Tulips prefer to be planted deeply, four times their own depth; a 2" bulb is planted 8 inches deep.
Grow Spring Cabbage
Spring cabbage is ready in late spring, earlier if grown as spring greens, when other crops are just getting going. Give it a sheltered position to help it survive the winter.
How to Force Bulbs Indoors
Plantings of paperwhites can provide continuous indoor blooms.
Feeding Birds in Winter: To Stop or Not to Stop?
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How to Plant Evergreens in Containers
Learn how to properly plant evergreens in containers to keep color alive in your garden all year around.
How to Plant Bare-Root Vegetables
Discover the best way to plant asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries in your garden.
Plants for a Colorful Shade Garden
A hosta lover shares some of his favorites among shade-loving plants.
10 Home Maintenance Tips for Spring
A certified home inspector shares 10 home-maintenance tips for spring.
How to Sprout Seeds
Sprouts are seeds that have just begun to germinate, so you can grow them in only a few days. They're tasty and nutty and crunchy and very good for you, so nibble them by the handful or sprinkle them on salads and sandwiches.
Tackle Early Spring Gardening Chores
Eager to get outside? Check out these early spring gardening chores that you can start now.
How to Sow Annuals
The big advantage of growing brightly colored annuals is that you can try out new fun ideas and combinations each year. They are easily raised in spring, and keep impatient gardeners busy before the rest of the garden takes off.
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