Spring is on its way! Signs of spring are popping up all over – leaf buds on trees are swelling, giving the trees a hazy look; fields of winter wheat are turning green; birds are beginning to sing; and flowers are starting to bloom!
Winter Aconite (Eranthis), Crocus, and the aptly-named Snowdrops (Galanthus) are putting on a grand show, sending our spirits soaring. The first Daffodils are beginning to show color – can the Hyacinths and Tulips be far behind? What a great way to start the season and bring beauty to the garden!
Seeing all of these harbingers of spring, some people will rush to the local garden center to buy bulbs of these plants. They’ll be disappointed – the bulbs of early spring blooming plants are not available now, because they MUST be planted in the fall. Planted in fall, the bulbs grow roots before the ground freezes. When the ground begins to warm in late winter and early spring, the bulbs have aleady rooted, and are ready to produce flowers and leaves.
When the plants are finished blooming, you might be tempted to cut off the foliage as it starts yellowing. DON’T DO IT! The leaves are producing food (through photosynthesis) to strengthen the bulbs so they’ll be able to bloom again next spring. You can remove the finished bloom stems, but let the leaves remain. Early annuals can be planted around the bulbs to hide the foliage as it matures, or bulbs can be planted among perennials which will also hide the bulb foliage as they grow. When the bulb foliage is completely dry and brown, no longer producing food for the bulb, it can be pulled off.
As for fertilizing your bulbs, apply a well-balanced bulb fertilizer on top of the soil at the time of planting. Apply again in spring, when the foliage is several inches tall. Most garden experts do NOT recommend using bone meal, because it isn’t a complete fertilizer, and lacks some of the nutrients bulbs need. Plus, it may attract mice, voles, or other animals, which might dig up your bulbs to get at the bone meal. (Some of these animals will also eat the bulbs.)
For instant color, garden centers will be offering blooming bulb plants in pots this spring, especially at Easter. Slip the plants out of their pots without disturbing the roots, and place them into the ground. Follow the instructions above, and you’ll have a beautiful spring display for years to come!
Stop by our lawn and garden department for gardening tools, spring bulbs, and more!