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Planting Spring Flowering Bulbs

Planting Spring Flowering Bulbs

Posted - Aug. 27, 2004 at 9:18 a.m.



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Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved

Flower Bed Design with Larry Sagers and USU Extension Service Advanced Master Gardeners Wonderful flower gardens don't just happen. They are created by careful gardeners. Learn how to plan and plant flowerbeds that are aesthetically pleasing and that will bloom from early spring through autumn. Fee: $40.00.

Please note there are two location this course is being taught.

Thanksgiving Point Tuesdays, September 7,14 and 21 1:30-4 PM or 6:-8:30 PM Join us in the Oak Room on the lower level of the Thanksgiving Gardens Visitors Center. Call Gretchen at 801 768-7443 to register.

Utah Botanical Center Thursdays, starting September 2 at 2:00 pm at the Utah House classroom in Kaysville. Call 801 451 3403 to register for this class.

Bulbs are among the most magical of all flowers. Dried shriveled, vegetation that bears a faint resemblance to old onions are dropped into the ground. Once planted, they stay in the ground throughout the winter. Expecting them magically to come forth in the spring seems almost ludicrous.

Yet as winter fades away the bulbs burst forth in all their glory. Interestingly enough almost all spring bulbs must go through the rigors of winter before they can bloom. In warmer climates they must be chilled in the refrigerator before they can be planted and expected to bloom.

Spring bulbs are truly the harbingers of spring. Snow drops and crocuses are often seen poking their heads out from underneath the snow. A wide assortment of wonderful flowers of all sizes, shapes, colors and descriptions follows them. With proper planning it is possible that have spring bulbs in bloom for several months. While traditional annuals are yet waiting to be planted, the bulbs are blooming profusely, providing that welcome spring color.

The beautiful spring bulbs are almost enough to take your breath away. These feature the tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and numerous other bulbs as spectacular blooms. The unfortunate downside of these bulbs is that like other bulbs, they have a very definite time when they are showy when the blossoms are out.

The rest of the time they have a rather nondescript to very unattractive foliage. When the foliage is dying back, it is downright ugly. Good designers know that they cannot depend entirely on the bulbs to make the spring garden. As spectacular as they are, they need help from other plants to sustain them.

Creative gardeners solve the problem in two ways. First orchestrate the blooms of the bulbs. With careful planning, bulbs can be in bloom from snow melt until late spring. Careful selection and planting allows the planting emphasis to change.

For example, flower beds may start with predominately orange and purple crocuses, followed by daffodils. Early tulips, mid-season tulips, and late-season tulips and many other kinds of bulbs are added to these spectacular gardens so some bulbs are in bloom from the time the snow melts until the spring flowers are replaced in May.

Bulbs must be left in until the foliage dies down, so our gardeners help solve the ugly bulb foliage problem by hiding it with other desirable plants. These winter annuals, biennials, and perennials are selected for their spring bloom period and for their hardiness.

Occasionally some gardeners want to plant their bulbs in the spring. Hardy, spring flowering bulbs are always planted in the fall. This is because of their built in survival mechanism.

Most of these bulbs are originally from Mediterranean climate areas or from desert areas. These areas are characterized by dry summer conditions and they usually get the natural moisture in the winter or early spring. Their desert origins are why we plant them in the fall instead of the spring.

In areas with hot dry summers, most plants bloom after the winter rains. They then go dormant during the summer heat so they can survive with no water. To prevent them from growing prematurely, they must go through a mandatory chilling requirement. The bulbs do not have to freeze but most must remain at near freezing temperatures for two to three months.

In warmer areas of the country, spring flowering bulbs bloom only if they were stored in refrigerated storage for several weeks or a month before planting. In our gardens, we let nature take care of the problem for us.

Because most bulbs are used to spending the summer in a warm, dry, dormant condition they survive well if you dig them up after they bloom.

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