Long winter nights and gray days will soon be upon us. Remember how you felt at winters’ end last year? How you longed for flowers and that “earthy” smell springtime exudes? Now is the time to plant for the spring giddies. I know, it has been hot, the insects have been buzzing and, you are tired. It’s easy to plant a few bulbs and believe me, the results next year will have you wanting more.
Bulbs are the easiest flowers to plant and to raise. I sometimes think a whole garden could be constructed using only bulbs. But I haven’t explored that idea. My favorites are daffodils & narcissus (Just to make things difficult, daffodils are narcissus, too.) They are not only cheery in spring, they are carefree, only needing digging and replanting when they become too crowded to bloom. Free bulbs and more flowers are the result. Since the bulbs are poisonous, squirrels and other critters do not dig them up and deer do not eat the flowers or foliage.
The easiest bulb to find is the old yellow large cup King Alfred. It is still a beauty in the garden. But, if you shop from bulb specialists, you can find daffs in differing size flowers, from petite to large cups and in white, yellow, pink, and orange or combinations of these colors. They will grow and thrive anywhere in the country that has some semblance of winter since they require just a bit of chilling. If you live in a warm climate, search out cultivars that do well in your area.
Plant daffodil bulbs in full sun, that’s sun when the leaves are on the trees. They will perform with only 6 hours of direct sun but you will get more blooms if they are not shaded. The bottom of the bulb should be dug in 3 times its height. When the flowers are spent, resist the urge to cut off the foliage. If you remove the foliage while it is green, you will starve the bulb. Once the green leaves turn yellow or brown, you can tidy up by removing them, not before.
There are several types of bulb planters out there, and along with a garden trowel, they all do the job. My favorite, because it is almost labor-free, is the bulb auger that fits on the end of an electric drill. You can make short work of planting bulbs with this. It is also useful for planting pansies and violas or any other bedding plant. Zip-zip-zip and you have 3 holes dug just that quick.
If your ground is frozen and you think it is too late to plant bulbs, plant them in pots instead. Then bury the pots outdoors in straw so that the bulbs themselves won’t freeze. If it gets too cold to use this technique where you are, try wrapping them up in straw and holding in an attached garage. The bulbs need chilling hours in order to bloom, although daffodils do not need as many as tulips.
Every year, I challenge myself as a gardener to grow something I've never grown before and this year was no exception. As a professional garden writer, I was privileged to be given several exciting new varieties to trial. Additionally, in my travels this year, I had the chance to evaluate many more new plants in trial gardens across the country. The following new annuals, which will be new at retail in Spring 2017, received top ratings in my book.
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