We certainly don’t want to rush the wonderfulness of the fall season, but it really is a great time to come up with a game plan for spring. This is the time to start planting cold-hearty bulbs for early spring blooms, and a little preparation now will have you feeling extra grateful when spring hits and you have a stunning garden of bloomers. Plant bulbs anytime between October and November for best results along the Wasatch Front. Temperatures should be around 40 or 50 degrees at night, or at least six weeks before you expect the ground to freeze. The reason you need to plant certain cold-hardy spring bulbs in the fall is because they need to go through a freezing period before they can sprout.
Ideal choices for fall planting are cold-hardy bulbs such as tulips and crocuses, but also consider daffodils and hyacinths. There are many choices, but these seem to be local favorites around Utah. They like be tucked in to sleep about six inches deep or more. The bulb packaging will give more specifics on the depth, so pay attention to those details. A general rule to remember is most bulbs like to be three times as deep as they grow tall.
Give Your Bulbs a Healthy Start
It’s tempting to dig a hole and just toss the bulb in, but you want to take a little time to prepare the bed. Remove weeds, loosen the soil, and add some compost for added nutrients, or possibly sand if you need a little extra drainage for the area. Give it a cozy blanket of mulch, and water the bulb well only at the planting time. Soggy bulbs will rot, so it’s important not to overwater them. You may want to mark where you planted with a stick or tag so you don’t accidentally dig them up later.
Consider buying your bulbs at a good time. Many nurseries start selling bulbs in August to try and clear space for the new season and the upcoming holidays. If you buy your bulbs in the later summer, you’ll need to store them carefully in a dry area for a couple months. Check the bulbs that they are plump and firm. If they are squishy and soft, they’ve probably already rotted, or they are moldy.
It’s also important to ensure you plant the right bulbs for the fall. There are some bulbs, such as dahlias and gladiolus, that need to be planted in the spring. Once you get your fall-planters in the ground, don’t apply any fertilizer until the spring. They will need to just lay dormant through the winter, so fertilizing isn’t necessary until you start to see the first shoots popping up.
Bulbs are a fun way to add personality to a garden. With their early blooming heartiness, your garden will be lovely well before the rest of your yard starts to get green and gorgeous. Like any plant, the right soil is critical to its health. Come see The Dirt Bag and get your bulbs started off right.