“Mom, can I eat this?” As the mom of a preschooler, I hear this all the time. The only time it really makes me panic is when he says it while we are in the garage. On this particular day, I turned to find him examining a daffodil bulb. “That’s not food; it’s a flower,” I explain, only to hear “No it’s not; where are the petals?” Sometimes kids are too smart for their own good.
As a gardener and horticulturist, I was pretty excited to explain the wonder of fall bulbs to my little guy. As grown ups, we often miss the magic of nature and fail to be impressed by the fact that we can plant a bulb in the ground in October and with little help at all, it will pop up as a flower months later.
Planting fall bulbs is a good way to get a jump start on spring gardening and an even better exercise in hope and faith. Planting is as simple as dig, drop, done but follow these tips and success is guaranteed.
1) Oh Deer - Many people give up on bulbs because they have lost tulips to munching deer in the past. The time has come to no longer fear the deer as many bulbs are deer resistant. Traditional daffodils, early spring crocus, fragrant hyacinths and graceful alliums are all unattractive to Bambi and his friends.
2) Garden Ingredients - Healthy bulbs are important, but adding ingredients like Bulb Tone (fertilizer), Bone Meal and Repels All Animal repellent will give bulbs a healthy start and keep critters from digging them back up.
3) Plant a Bouquet - Flowers are part of nature and not meant to be planted like soldiers in a row. Plant your bulbs in bouquets by digging larger holes and planting five to seven bulbs together in a group. When they bloom in the spring, they will look natural.
4) Timing is every thing - Many bulbs go out for sale in late August or early September but its better to plant them when the temperatures have dropped to the 40’s and 50’s at night. Bulbs can be planted until the ground is frozen.
5) Don’t forget the basics – Like any plant, bulbs need moist, well-drained soil. They should be planted about three times as deep as they are tall and with the point facing up. Water them in after planting and wait for Spring.
Flowering bulbs are the first sign of spring. Nothing beats the winter blues like watching their green leaves push through the ground. Have the kids help you get your bulbs in the ground and then just wait for the magic to happen.