Fall is as busy a time in the garden as spring. Fall is a time of harvest and the time to clean up and get ready for winter. Fall is also the time to get ready for spring and for me that means planting spring bulbs.
Two of the earliest spring bulbs to announce the arrival of spring are the crocus and the grape hyacinths. Both bulbs are easy to plant, require no maintenance, and multiply over time. They are perfect in borders, beds and containers.
I like to plant both crocus and grape hyacinths at the main entrance to the house and another grouping in a bed I can see from my kitchen window. When I see the first bits of color peaking through the snow as the crocus poked their heads up, I know spring is here.
Fall bulbs can be planted up until the ground is frozen, in Maryland that usually means late October or November. Spring bulbs can be grown in zones 4-8. Crocus and grape hyacinths and all the fall bulbs need to be planted in well drained soil. They don’t like to get their feet wet. If the area where you plan on planting the bulbs doesn’t have good drainage or is heavy with clay admen the soil by adding compost, peat moss or some type of organic materials to the soil.
Work the soil adding the compost or organic material to a depth of 12 to 18 inches. Remember, spring bulbs once planted will provide years and years of color and beauty, so it is important to give them a good start.
In addition to the organic material one should add a helping of bone meal or super phosphate and a soluble fertilizer to the soil. Plan on adding 2 cups of bone meal and 5 Tablespoons of a 10-10-10 water soluble fertilizer to a 10 square feet bed.
The rule of thumb when planting bulbs is three times the bulbs vertical diameter in depth. Check the directions that come with the bulbs. It is better to plant the bulbs too deep rather then to plant the bulbs too shallow. The newly planted bulbs will need to be water once a week in order to develop strong roots.
Once established the fall planted bulbs will emerge in the spring bring color and beauty through the snow, and if planted properly continue to do so for many years to come.