Fall Planting for Spring Flowers

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Fall bulbs are available in all the garden centers at this time of year. Of course, these bulbs must be planted now in order to bloom in the spring. Spring flowering bulbs must receive at least six weeks of chilling temperatures (45 to 50 degrees) to make them bloom. These bulbs include tulip, daffodil, narcissus, crocus, hyacinth and others. This area has enough cold weather to allow these bulbs to be planted as late as January and still have good flowers.

Bulbs should be planted in a well drained location that receives at least four hours of full sun each day. The planting depth should be determined by the type of bulb that is being planted. Water the area thoroughly after planting. Bulb fertilizer should be applied in the fall, just as the plant comes up in the spring and after the flower dies. Do not use high nitrogen fertilizers or fresh fertilizers such as manure. Use a bulb food that will give extra nutrition to the bulb itself.

To encourage perennialization of the bulb garden, do not cut flowers from the plants. Allow the flower to fade and then cut the bloom to keep seed pods from forming. Cut the remaining foliage after it has turned yellow. Narcissus and daffodils are the best bulbs for perennialization in our area.

If bulbs have been purchased early and need to be stored until planting time, be sure and keep them in a cool, dry location with good ventilation. Never store in a closed boxed or sealed plastic bag.

Remember to plant like blooming times and heights together. To prolong the flowering time, plant three separate beds: early, mid-season and late flowering varieties. All the information needed to make good choices is located on the package. Be sure and read this information before making your purchases.

A bulb garden can be a glorious thing in the spring when it comes into bloom with bright splashes of color against the still dormant landscape. The biggest step for most gardeners is planting so far in advance and having to wait for months to see the results. But, when it finally happens, it is well worth the wait.