71115thumbOf all the gardening chores, planting dormant bulbs is probably the least gratifying. All we do is dig a hole to the required depth and width, set a few unimpressively dormant bulbs with the correct orientation and spacing, and then fill the hole with the same soil that was removed from it. The process gets repeated until all the bulbs are planted. Soil amendment and fertilizer might be added.

There is nothing to show for our efforts. When finished, only bare soil remains. We might want to plants flowering annuals or a light duty ground cover over the bulbs, or we might just spread mulch. If soil amendment is needed, it should be mixed into the soil at the bottom of the planting holes. Fertilizer can get dispersed over the surface of the soil after planting. There really is not much to it.

Planting bulbs is also a chore that is easy to forget about until it is too late. If we do not see them in nurseries, we might not think about daffodil, narcissus, hyacinth, grape hyacinth, freesia, tulip, crocus, lily, anemone, ranunculus, iris or other spring bulbs until we see them blooming next spring. Yet, this is when their dormant bulbs, corms, rhizomes, tubers and tuberous roots get planted.

Many types of bulbs become available in nurseries at the same time, and can be planted as soon as they become available. It might be too early to plant those that are not yet available. Gladiola, dahlia, allium, calla and canna are summer bulbs that will become available later because they likely should get planted later, although calla and canna do not seem to care when they get planted.

Daffodil, narcissus and grape hyacinth are probably the most reliable spring bulbs for naturalizing. Bearded iris is likewise very reliable, but needs to be dug, split and groomed every few years. Freesia and crocus may not naturalize as reliably. Lily, tulip, anemone, ranunculus and hyacinth are spectacular in spring, but are unlikely to naturalize because they prefer more of a chill in winter.

Some bulbs can be phased in their first year. For example, if freesia flowers are expected to last about a week, a second group of bulbs can be planted about a week after the first. A third group can be planted about a week after the second, and so on for a few weeks until the planting season ends. As the first group finishes bloom in spring, the second group begins to bloom, and so on.

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4 thoughts on “Plant Spring Bulbs In Autumn

  1. Hi there, great idea about phasing the planting- I’d never thought of that with bulbs. Also interesting information about soil amendment and fertilizer- although I don’t know what soil amendment is- I don’t think we use that term in Australia.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would have though that soil amendment would be important in much of Australia because of the lack of other vegetation that produces a lot of ‘usable’ debris. I think of most of Australia as chaparral or desert; but I have never been there, and the soil must be quite variable in the many different regions like it is here. The funny thing here is that so much amendment gets used, even though the soil is very good in some areas. I never add soil amendment to my own garden. I do not phase bulbs either. I prefer them to bloom all at once. They will bloom all at once the following year anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nothing to show for our efforts now….but watching those spots in the spring, waiting, that’s a good thing. We have long nasty winters here, and it’s major excitement when something comes thru the ground in the spring and we know it will become something beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is what people in Pennsylvania tell me. I don’t get it because we do not even have snow here. I would actually prefer some bulbs to wait longer to bloom, because some bloom in winter when no one is out in the garden to see them.

      Liked by 1 person

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