Fall Bulbs for Spring Colour
Every spring when the tulips and daffodils are blooming, we often get asked if we have them in stock? Unfortunately, unless you want forced potted blooms (which are available in the spring in the greenhouse!), it is too late to get them for your garden.
Bulbs for early spring blooms, such as tulips, daffodils, allium, crocus, and other spring blooming bulbs are available now, in the fall. Spring blooming bulbs need to be planted in the fall to have at least 12 weeks of cold to produce flower buds, they will break dormancy in early spring when temperature, moisture and day length kick starts them to get growing. Several factors can lead to improper bloom in spring, including a warm and dry winter, too much moisture, early spring warmth followed by freezing temperatures and/or dry spring. Also watch out for squirrels and mice that may decide they need food vs. you needing pretty flowers in spring.
Steps to Beautiful Spring Tulips
- Head to Blue Grass (or a local garden centre) to browse through the racks to choose your bulbs. Pick colour, type, height, and growing times and conditions that will suit your garden and/or preferences. (Blue Grass Tip: Add some alliums to the mix, as the smell of these bulbs may help deter garden critters wanting to snack on your soon to be newly planted bulbs). Double check that bulbs are firm and are showing no mold or mildew (this can be cleaned off if not too much).
- Other bulb planting necessities: if you don’t like alliums, pick up some Acti-Sol pure hen manure to sprinkle on the soil after your bulbs are planted to keep animals away. Also pick up some compost (if soil needs amending), bulb food or bonemeal, and a trowel or bulb planter if you don’t have one.
- Wait until your garden soil is cooler, so that bulbs won’t overheat and rot in wet, warm soil. Early October is usually a great time to think about getting your bulbs planted. They will already be available in the Garden Centre by early September, pick them up then for best selection and store in a cool, dark place until you are ready to plant. No worries if you forget about them and find them in mid-November, if you can still dig into your soil, get them planted! (Now if it’s mid January, it’s likely too late to plant them outside, but all is not lost, stay tuned for information on indoor forcing!)
- In a sunny to part sun location, prepare soil for planting by loosening up soil and/or amending with organic material if you have a lot of clay. Ensure that there is adequate drainage as bulbs are very sensitive to excessive moisture and will rot.
- Dig a hole or small trench with a shovel or trowel, or individually plant bulbs with a bulb planter. Bulbs should be planted at least 2-3 times as deep as the height of the bulb; tulips, daffodils and alliums will need to be planted deeper than crocus, Siberian squill, chionodoxa (glory of the snow), muscari (grape hyacinth), and galanthus (snowdrop). Follow directions on packaging for best directions for each individual type. *Blue Grass Tip: Typically, a bulb planter hole will be big enough for one tulip bulb or 3 species bulbs; when digging a larger hole with a shovel or trowel, lay out bulbs evenly throughout the hole, giving them space between each bulb. Plant bulbs with pointed end up, this is the direction that the bloom stem will start growing upwards, the roots will form at the base of the bulb.
- Mix different types of bulbs together to create a naturalized grouping of spring bulbs, ensuring larger bulbs are set in first, cover with soil, then add smaller bulbs.
- Fill in holes ensuring bulbs stay upright, lightly tamp soil over bulbs and water once. Sprinkle hen manure over planting area to deter squirrels and other foraging garden critters. Apply mulch to keep soil temperatures more evenly cool in spring and avoid early emergence. Bonemeal or bulb food is not necessary for newly planted bulbs, you’ll need these more for after bloom care.
- Settle in and enjoy the winter! Your spring blooms will appear when temperatures start to warm up, water as needed; if you notice bulbs starting show up too early you can cover area with snow, add more mulch or pile with evergreen boughs.
Bundle up and get planting!