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Fall Planting for Spring Blooms

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Fall Planting for Spring Blooms

Can you believe it is time to plant bulbs for spring flowers? It is exciting seeing that first flower in spring but it takes time to get there. Spring blooming bulbs start growing almost immediately after they are planted. They send down roots in the fall and continue growing throughout the winter. It is so important to get them off to a good start. Choose a spot that will get plenty of sunshine in the spring. Add organic matter and some bulb food or bone meal, at planting time. Make sure you keep them watered until the ground freezes.

There are 6 spring bulbs that are easiest to grow and give you the biggest bang for your buck – crocus, daffodils, hyacinths, snowdrops, tulips and alliums. There are lots to choose from for each bulb and planting several varieties will keep your garden blooming all spring.

Crocus - Crocus vernus  - are the one of the earliest flowers to appear in spring often getting snowed on. There are more than 80 species. Crocuses look best when they look natural. Large drifts waving through the garden, under trees or throughout the lawn make a wonderful display in early spring. Mix with different species of crocus to extend the bloom time. Crocus planted in a protected spot can bloom weeks earlier than those in open exposure which is a good way to extend their bloom time.

Daffodils - Narcissus - (pictured) there are over 50 species of daffodils according to the National Daffodil Society. Pretty yellow trumpet flowers cheer up any spring landscape. Big sunny clusters of daffodils are beautiful in spring. They are best to pair them with grassy type plants. No one is sure how long a daffodil plant will live, but a stand of daffodil bulbs can easily out-live the person who plants them.

Hyacinths – Hyacinthus orientalis  – are tubular shaped individual flowers on spikes with an intense fragrance. Most varieties are fairly large. It looks best to plant hyacinths in large groups or mix with other plants and spring bulbs because the come in so many colors and sizes. The spiky flower stalk makes a nice display along with cup shaped tulips or ruffled daffodils. Wear gloves when handling the bulbs, they contain a substance that can cause an itchy skin.

Snowdrops – Galanthus nivalis - in cold climates are often the first flowers to bloom. They are hardy plants despite their tiny, drooping flowers and grass-like foliage make them look very delicate. Snowdrops are often poking up and blooming in the snow left on the ground. They take a while to get established in the garden and don’t be surprised if some pop up in different places. Snowdrops need some sunlight to bloom but too much sun will melt them. The perfect place is under a deciduous tree before it leaves out – dappled shade.

Tulips – Tulipa – are a perennial, spring blooming, bulbous plant, but are short lived in some areas. They look best when planted in clusters or with other cool season annuals like snapdragons and pansies. Tulips need a chilling period and are planted in the fall. If you have trouble getting your tulip to come back each year, it could be because the winter isn’t cold enough, the summer is too wet or something has eaten the bulbs. This is why tulips are treated as an annual, replanting each fall.

Alliums – Allium christophii – are drought-tolerant plants and prefer to be dry. Alliums will grow in most any soil with sunlight. They are pest resistant. There are more than 700 different types of ornamental alliums in the world.

A good resource for information on garden pests is the Advice, Tips and Resources  page found in Gardening Help. It has detailed information on all the pests that might decide to visit your garden.

Debbie Kirkpatrick, Kemper Horticulture Assistant

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