PlantTherapy: Fall Planted Bulbs

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Cut irises from the Greenmaret, spring 2007

Spring bulbs seem like a world away, but now is the best time (if you have a small outdoor space) to begin planning.

  • Do your research and shopping now. Order bulbs now for best selection and fall delivery.

  • Make sure you have a proper spade or bulb planter

  • Buy any soil amendments and bulb protection (bird netting or chicken wire) and have it ready beforehand

  • Anticipate a weekend afternoon in the fall for planting

Here are a few links after the jump, to get you going...

Dave's Garden rates garden shops, and their Watchdog 30 list is a good place to begin your search for a reliable vendor.

Old House Gardens, which is highly rated, has a very good 'how-to' for reference in preparing and planting your bulbs.

White Flower Farm's website is fun to browse because of its nice photos and they do have a range of bulb mixes, like The Works that are offered at reduced prices.

Here is a bit of advice from the owner of Old House Gardens, Scott Kunst, via an article in the Christian Science Monitor, to get you thinking ahead:

Protect newly planted bulbs
Squirrels and other animals are attracted by the scent of freshly turned soil. If they trouble your bulbs, cover the soil with plastic bird netting (available at most garden centers) and peg it down. It's cheap, easily cut to size, and virtually invisible. Remove after soil freezes or before growth emerges in spring.
Camouflage yellowing foliage
After they bloom, spring bulbs need 6 to 10 weeks to photosynthesize and recharge. Don't cut or braid their foliage, or you'll be sacrificing future blooms. Instead, after planting in the fall, scatter seeds of self-sowing annuals such as forget-me-nots, Johnny jump-ups, larkspur, and Shirley poppies. In spring, their new growth and blooms will make the maturing bulb foliage all but disappear.
Prolong tulip life
Tulips are native to parts of the world where summers are dry, so, for them, a well-watered garden is a swamp. If you don't have sandy, well-drained soil, try planting bulbs in raised beds, places where you never water, on a slope, or near a thirsty shrub or tree and they'll keep coming back.

matt at apartment therapy dot com

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