Plant Bulbs Now for Spring

Fall is not only a time for pumpkins and mums, but it also time to plant those spring blooming flower bulbs for a much appreciated splash of color in the spring.

The ideal time to plant bulbs, especially daffodils, are September to October as they need time for root growth ahead of winter freezes. These bulbs are dormant in the summer heat and need lower fall and early winter temperatures to resume growing.

Choosing the right bulbs is key to a successful, showy display in the spring. Start with bulbs that are large, as they will bloom better and be wary of small or bargain bulbs as they are often will not bloom the first season. The bulbs should be firm, heavy, smooth and without injury. The earlier in the season, the better selection.

Bulbs should be planted in full sun, however, they can be planted under deciduous trees which will only provide partial shade in the spring. Take care not to plant bulbs in a southern facing location near a structure for fear it could cause warmer soil temperatures inducing bulbs to emerge too early and risk freeze injury.

Properly drained soil will provide the best situation for bulbs as they tend to perform poorly or rot in heavy clay soils. If needed, add one-third to one-half peat moss, compost or well-rotted manure to loosen heavier soils and allow for more drainage. Loosen the soil to a depth of 12 inches and add in a complete fertilizer such as 5-10-10 at a rate of three pounds per 100 square feet.

Plant bulbs with the pointy end up (think of a triangle) to a depth of about four times the height of the bulb between the soil surface and the tip of the bulb. For example, hyacinths should be planted at least six inches deep and daffodils about six to eight inches deep. Plant larger bulbs about six inches apart. Take care to read the planting instructions that come with your purchase. For the ultimate spring show, plant in clumps or irregular masses rather than singly.

After planting, backfill with half of the soil, water, add the remaining soil and water again. Water as needed through the fall. Once the soil has frozen to a depth of two inches, mulch may be added. Bulbs may be dug up and fed on by rodents (like squirrels, chipmunks, or mice) but not daffodils or hyacinths.

Some recommended spring blooming bulbs for Ohio are:  daffodils, hyacinth, crocus, anemone, tulips, scilla, muscari, snowdrops, chionodoxa, and some lilies.

So, as you dig out the rake for that not-so-fun autumn chore, take some time out for bulb planting. You’ll thank yourself this spring.

For more information, contact the Ohio State University Extension Office in Miami County at 937-440-3945.

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