Are you thinking of planting bulb for your next year's flower garden? Here are some handy guidelines so you will have success in your fall planting.
How to Choose the Best Bulbs
Some people order their bulbs from supply houses. There you have no chance to pick through and find the best ones. Someone else does that for you. If you have never bought bulbs before, here is a way to do it. It is sort of like choosing an onion. Look for bulbs that are firm, with no mushy spots. If your bulb has a soft spot, that's an indication that it is beginning to rot. In addition, you need to look for bulbs that aren't bruised. If you find one that is shriveled and dry, then that usually means that the life force inside the bulb is almost if not dead.
A bigger size bulb does not mean that it is better. A lot of it depends on the size bed where you are planning to plant your bulbs. If you want to have a bed of only 10 plants or so, then look for the bigger bulbs. The smaller ones are perfect for a large bed that will give you a splash of color in the spring. Alternatively, you can cut and put them in a bouquet. Of course, in a few years time, the small bulbs you bought and planted will grow so you'll have the big bulbs in the end.
Planting Bulbs in the Fall
Once you have your bulbs in the fall, the best time to plant is before the first hard frost. The perfect time to stick them in the ground is when the air temperature no longer gets above 65 degrees. Try not to keep your bulbs over any length of time without planting them. If the weather turns bad before you get your bulbs planted in the ground you can wait and still plant should the weather improve a bit. You will need to plant them a little deeper than normal. If this is not possible, then you can temporarily plant your bulbs in a planter and store into in a cool dark place. Through out the winter, sprinkle some water on them. Don't put too much water on the bulbs or they will rot. You can also place your bulbs in the refrigerator in a ventilated bag. Keep the temperature around 42. Please note a word of warning if you do this. Do not store fruit in the same refrigerator because the ethylene gas will kill your bulbs.
Most bulbs are not fussy. Some can even be planted upside down and still find their way to the surface. They have their time of growing and flowering and this is when it is critical to planting. In order to grow,
bulbs need a cold period of six weeks. This is when they form their roots in order to survive.
After They are Planted
When your bulbs are planted, you can mulch the ground if you want. Most of the tulips, daffodils, crocus, iris, hyacinth, and narcissus are hardy enough to survive cold winter climates. When spring comes, remove the mulch and watch your plants come to life. You really don't need to fertilize your bulbs, but if you want to add a little for better growth, a small bit of prepackaged Bulb Booster or bone meal will work very well. You should have a PH balance of six or seven.
Once the growing season has ended, leave your bulb plants alone to rest. This is the stage where the bulbs are gathering nutrients from the soil. By doing this, they will grow bigger and better next year