Have you been procrastinating the planting of those spring bulbs you bought in September and now find yourself in the middle of October? If so, it is still not too late to plant these bulbs if you live in the Bluegrass. As long as the soil is not frozen and can still be worked with a spade, you still have time to get the bulbs in the ground for a beautiful spring display in 2011.
Here are some simple steps to make bulb planting easy:
•Spring-flowering bulbs do best in full sun, but will also thrive in partial shade. Good drainage is essential for bulbs, so it is best avoid soggy areas or low-lying areas of your garden.
•Dig a hole or trench large enough for several bulbs. Bulbs look their best when they are planted in bunches. For small gardens, try groupings of 6 to 12; in larger gardens, use groups of 12 to 24.
•Bulb size determines how deep to plant. As a rule, plant bulbs 3 times as deep as they are wide. For example, large bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and alliums should be planted about 8 to 12 inches deep; smaller bulbs such as crocus and snowdrops should be planted 4 to 6 inches deep.
•Space large bulbs 3 to 6 inches apart and small ones 1 to 2 inches apart. Make sure to plant the bulbs with the root end down. If you cannot decide which end is the root end (which sometimes happens with smaller bulbs), lay the bulb sideways; this will allow the roots to grow down and the top to grow up.
•Cover bulbs with soil and water generously. After the ground freezes, apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch to the surface; compost, well-rotted manure, shredded bark or chopped up leaves work best. Try to avoid rock mulches because this makes it harder for bulbs to come up in the spring.
•At planting time, you don’t actually need to apply fertilizer, because the bulbs are already fertile after blooming. If the bulbs will stay in place for a number of seasons, enrich the soil in the planting area with good organic compost or well-rotted cow manure worked into the soil when planting.
•Even bulbs which are planted this late in the season should bloom in the spring, albeit the blooms may be minimal.
Once you have daffodils and crocuses blooming, they will hang around for years and begin to spread and naturalize in your garden. I have a friend who plants a daffodil “maze” in back yard with a mulch path for her grandchildren to play in. She leaves the dying leaves of the daffodils, but then it is warm enough to plant sunflower and wildflower seeds, which soon grow up and made a real maze for hiding. It’s pretty cool!