Zoo Blooms

Light up your Spring with Bulbs

Bulbs should be planted as soon as the ground is cool when evening temperatures average between 40° to 50° F. But you should plant at least six weeks before the ground freezes.

Read the label. Try to keep the label together with the bulbs until planting. Without the label, you can’t tell the red tulips from the white ones just by looking at the bulbs.

Where to plant. You can plant bulbs just about anywhere in your garden — so long as the soil drains well. Bulbs do not like wet feet, so, avoid areas where water collects, such as the bottom of hills. Bulbs also like sun. But the spring garden is very sunny — the leaves aren’t on the trees yet. Get creative!

• Prepare the planting bed by digging the soil so it’s loose and workable. If it’s not an established garden bed, chances are the soil could use the addition of some organic matter such as compost or soil conditioner.


Tips for Planting Bulbs

• Plant the pointy end up. That’s about all you need to know. It’s easy to spot the pointy end of a tulip; tougher with a crocus. But in most cases, even if you don’t get it right, the flower bulb will still find its way topside.

• Plant big bulbs about 8″ deep and small bulbs about 5″ deep.

• No fertilizer is necessary for the first year’s bloom. Bulbs are natural storehouses of food. They don’t need anything to flower the first year. For bulbs that are intended to naturalize or perennialize (return for several years) or for bulbs that are coming into their second year, spread an organic fertilizer such as compost or well-rotted cow manure, or a slow release bulb food on top of the soil.

Design Ideas

• Plant bulbs in clusters. Don’t plant one bulb alone, or make a long thin line along the walk. Clusters give a concentration of color for greatest impact. Even if you don’t have enough bulbs for a big bed, small clusters can make a super spring show.

• Try a double-decker effect. You can plant small bulbs in a layer right on top of large bulbs. If you plant bulbs that flower in the same period you can create an interesting double-decker effect (picture bright pink tulips blooming above cobalt blue Grape Hyacinths). Or you can stagger the bloom time by planting mid- and late-season bloomers together, creating a spring display that blooms in succession, for a whole season of color!

In the end, what you do with fall bulbs is limited only by your imagination. A few hours one brisk autumn afternoon can yield months of colorful excitement in your yard or garden next spring.