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Last Call for Bulbs

Last Call for Bulbs

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Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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When most gardeners are winding down for the season and waiting for the plants to die of frost, some are waiting and planning for the promises of spring.

Spring gardens are created in the fall. The beautiful displays of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other resplendent bulbs are only possible with adequate planning and planting in the fall.

Bulbs are among the most magical of all flowers. Dried, shriveled bulbs that resemble old onions are dropped into the ground where they stay throughout the winter.

Expecting much from these ugly bulbs seems almost ludicrous. Yet as winter fades away they 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.

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 to 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.

Bulbs are the showstoppers in the spring garden. Garden centers are filled with myriad bulbs of all colors, sizes, shapes and descriptions.

Designing spring flower displays takes a good knowledge of plants and the skill to combine them.

Many spring flowers, particularly the bulbs, reach a crescendo of color and then quickly fade away. Few would dispute that crocuses, poking their head through the snow, or daffodils, with their yellow burst of color, signify the approach of spring.

All bulbs are only temporary. Bulb flowers are at their peak for a week to 10 days and look reasonable three weeks at the most. Those three weeks are spectacular, but they do not provide color for long enough to truly make a successful spring garden.

Orchestrate the blooms of the bulbs. Bulbs can be in bloom from snow melt until late spring with careful planning. Careful selection and planting allow the planting emphasis to change. For example, flower beds may be predominately orange and purple crocuses, followed by yellow daffodils.

Plant early tulips, mid-season tulips, and late-season tulips of different colors, sizes and heights. Dramatic color changes require good designs to create spectacular results.

Many gardeners do not plant their bulbs deep enough, and they do not stay in the soil. Always plant them at least three times the diameter of the bulb.

Bulbs must be left in until the foliage dies down, so successful 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. In addition to traditional garden plants, try some spring alpine plants for the beautiful color in the critical, early season.


Allium (many species)

Anenome (Anenome species)

Crocus (Crocus vernus)

Crown imperial (Fritillaria imperialis)

Dutch iris (Iris reticulata)

Glory of the snow (Chionodoxa luciliae)

Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis)

Lily of the valley (Convallarin majalis)

Narcissus (many species)

Snowdrops (Galanthus)

Striped squill (Puschkinio scilloides)

Tulip (many species)

Winter aconite (Eranthis)

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Larry A, Sagers


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