Home Map and Hours Classes and Events Employment

Welcome to Tagawa's Blog

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Plant Spring Bulbs Now!

Picture this!    

      Picture a long, chilly winter.  The landscape is fairly drab and colorless.  Will spring ever come?!

      Now, picture an array of daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and crocus in beautiful, bold scolors.  Interested?  Well, there is no better time than now to plant those spring bulbs that will greet and dazzle you next season.

     Planting bulbs can be as easy or as involved as you want to make it.  During October and early November, the soil hasn't frozen yet. And as long as you can dig, you can plant bulbs.  Obviously, how many bulbs you plant is up to you.  But once you see their spring show, you may find yourself planting more and more every year.

Basic bulb-plating tips and tricks:  Tip #1

     The bigger the bulb, the bigger the flower.  Seems pretty logical, right?  It's helpful to know that a flower bulb isn't the same thing as a seed.  Kris, Tagawa's bulb expert, says we should think of bulbs as "swollen storage systems."   Cut one in half, and you'll see layers of future leaves surrounding a tiny stem and an embryonic flower.  Cut open a hyacinth, for example, and the pale, half-inch tall blossom is clearly visible.  (And it's a great "visual" for kids.)

     If you're buying individual bulbs, it's well worth the money to invest in the largest bulbs you can find for that flower type.  Tagawa's has a big selection to choose from. 

     If you want a cluster of the same flowers, pre-packaged bags of bulbs make sense.  They'll be less expensive per bulb, but they'll also be smaller than the premium bulbs.  It's a trade off.

Tip #2:  Add organic material

     Odds are that if you're planting in Colorado, your soil is good old Colorado clay.  (For the record, the "good old" part is a joke.  A little gardening humor....)  Bulbs don't like heavy clay soil, but don't despair.  Compost is the answer.  Mix a few scoops of compost into the planting hole before you set in the bulbs.  The compost will help to lighten the soil so it doesn't stay too wet.  Give a bulb a soggy planting site, and it's very likely to rot before it ever blooms.

     Compost is also the answer if you have sandy soil that drains too quickly.  The organic material will help hold on to moisture. 

Tip #3:  A little food, please...

     Your bulbs will definitely appreciate a little phosphate boost.  Sprinkle the phosphate into the planting hole with the compost, stir to mix and then start planting.  The staff at Tagawa's can point out the
phospate fertilizer that you need.

Tip #3:  Easy does it as you plant
     The flat end of a bulb is the end with the roots, and should go next to bottom of the hole. The pointy end is the top and should be pointing up when you plant. 

     Remember that bulbs can bruise and damage.  You don't want to smash them into the soil  Just set them in carefully, give them a gentle push so they're well-seated, and then cover them up.   

Tip #4:  Planting depth is a big deal!

      The rule of thumb for our climate is to plant a bulb three to four times its height.  Example:  if a daffodil bulb is two inches tall, it needs to be planted six to eight inches deep.     

     Bulbs that are planted too high can emerge too soon in the spring and get zapped by the cold. 

     And here's a great planting tip from Kris:  plant in "bouquets."  You don't have to plant just one kind of bulb in each place.  Dig a hole wide enough and deep enough to accomodate different types of bulbs.  The largest bulbs, often daffodils, go in first.  Cover them with some compost-amended soil, then plant tulips, for example, above the daffodils at their proper depth.
Cover again, and plant still smaller bulbs on top of the tulips. 

     Depending on the bulbs you choose, you could have different flowers blooming at the same time, or have a succession of blooms.... one type of flower after another.  Either way, it's a great look!

Tip # 5:  Care after planting

     Water the bulbs well once you're done planting.  They'll actually begin to grow while the soil is still warm, but you won't see the shoots since they'll all   stay underground.

     Kris recommends that once the soil is "good and cold," usually some time in December, mulch the bulb beds to hold in the cold.  That helps to keep the bulbs from "waking up" during one of our warm spells in winter.
     Remember to water them once a month during the winter if we haven't had a good, soaking snow.  It can make all the difference in keeping the bulbs healthy until spring.

Tip #6:  After the flowers have gone....

     Be sure to cut off the flowers and stalks as the blossoms begin to fade.  Plants are programmed by Mother Nature to set seed.  "Dead heading," cutting off the flowers as they begin to fail, prevents the formation of seeds.  And that keeps more energy going to to next year's show of color.

     Now go plant some bulbs!  Give them a little T.L.C., and you'll be well-rewarded next spring.


No comments: