Grow Guide: Planting Bulbs

Gardening expert Felder Rushing offers tips on planting bulbs.
Tulip

Tulip

Hardy spring bulbs are a welcome addition to the landscape. The choice of beautiful colors is endless for different shades and flower varieties each year. Crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths, scilla and tulips are just a few welcome in a spring garden.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Felicia Feaster

Image courtesy of Felicia Feaster

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Question:

I dug up some heirloom bulbs from my aunt's garden this spring, and some are already starting to sprout. Is it too late to plant them? 

Answer:

By all means, get them in the ground! Even without knowing what kind they are, I'll bet they will start growing roots as soon as they get nestled into some good garden soil, even as the new shoots start to come up. If you have pretty good garden dirt, plant the bulbs about two or three times as deep as the bulbs are in diameter; if the soil is hard clay or compacted, or stays wet in the winter, plant the bulbs on the shallow  side or in a raised bed, but be sure to pile more dirt on top so they are still buried at the right depth. 

While the bulbs already have next spring's flower buds formed, to get the very most out of them for years to come feed them very lightly with a good bulb food mixed into the bottom inch of the soil beneath the bulbs. And plan on leaving them alone next spring until after the leaves turn yellow or flop over. Add a few new bulbs to the mix -- including garlic, to help add even more zest to your spring garden when our spirits need color the most. If you expect it to get really cold this winter, cover the planting area with a nice layer of bark or leaf mulch, which will help insulate the bulbs and shoots. 

If you just can't get around to planting them in the ground this fall, put them in pots with a few inches of good potting soil below and above them. Plant big bulbs deeper than little ones, even layering them in the same pot! Then leave the pots outside all winter, maybe in a protected place or even buried a little in the ground to insulate the soil and bulbs. I'd love to see some pictures of them when they bloom next spring. Maybe we can help identify them so you know what you are sharing with the next generation! (You are going to share, aren't you?)

Gardening expert and certified wit Felder Rushing answers your questions and lays down some green-wisdom. You can get more of your Felder fix at www.slowgardening.net.

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