When your garden takes on its “fall-ish” look, it’s time to start thinking about planting bulbs for spring bloom. In Jefferson County, late September and early October are the best times for planting bulbs. This allows the bulbs to grow a healthy root system before the ground freezes.
Pick your planting site before you go shopping so you will come home with the right number and type of bulbs. Bulbs do well in both sun and shade, but avoid hot, southern exposures close to your home’s foundations. Bulbs planted here may emerge too soon in the spring, only to be damaged by a freeze. Pick a site with good drainage.
Select and Purchase Bulbs
Look for the largest size bulb for each variety, and check them for damage or mildew. Try to avoid bulbs with green tips because they have already started their growth cycle. Be alert! Bulbs in an open bin may have been mixed up by a previous customer, so select bulbs that have the same appearance.
Prepare Your Soil
To improve the texture of the soil, add spahgnum peat moss or compost using up to one-third of the volume of soil removed from the bed. Soil amended in this way offers less resistance to the shoot as it emerges and provides better aeration and drainage for root growth. Soils that are high in clay should be amended.
Different types of bulbs have different planting depths, so read the package instructions carefully. As a general rule, the planting depth is four times the height of the bulb between the soil surface and the tip of the bulb. Make sure to plant the bulbs with the growing tip up. After the ground freezes, cover the bed with a 3-inch mulch.