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Flower Bulbs Gardening – Self Contained Flower Storehouse

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What is a Flower Bulb:

The really neat thing about bulbs is they are a self contained storehouse of flower & food for the flower. All that’s needed is for a gardener to place the bulb in the ground at the right time of the season, add some water & possibly compost, and the bulb does the rest.

Types of Flowering Bulbs: There are basically 3 types of flowering bulbs:

  • Spring flowering bulbs (planted in the fall)
  • Summer flowering bulbs (planted in the spring)
  • Fall flowering bulbs

Flowering bulbs can be more accurately divided into 2 primary categories:

  1. Hardy Bulbs (generally spring flowering bulbs)
  2. Tender Bulbs (usually summer flowering bulbs)

Flower Bulbs Gardening   Self Contained Flower Storehouse

Detailed Pages on Bulbs, Tubers, Tuber Roots, Rhizomes, & Corms

Hardy Bulbs – are planted in the fall before the first frost and can survive the cold winter. Examples include: Daffodils & tulips.

Tender Bulbs – are planted in the summer (after the last frost) and could not survive winter conditions. These bulbs must be dug up each year & stored indoors over the winter. Examples include: Dahlias & begonias.

When you think of flower bulbs, tulips usually come to mind first. They are by far the most popular bulb flowers but not the only ones. There are many other beautiful types of bulb flowers that are easy to grow and will make your garden look great.

Planting flower bulbs is quick & easy, and nearly foolproof. They are beloved by both beginners as well as master gardeners because the gardening effort will be more towards design and less of hard work.

When to plant flower bulbs:

* Remember first to consult the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Maps. This is the standard and shows you the best time to plant every kind of flower.

* Bulbs should be planted as soon as the ground is cool. This could be around the time of the first frost and when evening temperatures average between 40 to 50 degrees F.

* Remember that spring flowering bulbs like tulips, crocuses, daffodils, etc, need a period of cold to produce the best flowers.

- Plant at least 6 weeks before the ground freezes to allow for good root development. - You can store bulbs for a month or so if kept in a cool & dry place between 50-60 degree F.

Note: Keep the label… many bulbs look alike. Also, you should read the label for directions specific to a particular bulb.

Where to plant flower bulbs:

* Flower bulbs can be planted nearly anywhere in your garden as long as the soil drains well.

* Avoid areas where water collects like at the bottom of a hill.

* Bulbs like a lot of sun so if you have a choice use your shaded areas for other types of flora.

How to plant flower bulbs:

* Start by digging the soil in your flower bed so it’s loose and workable.

For the best show of flowers:

* Plant bulbs in clusters versus thin lines or one at a time.

* Plant your high bulbs in the back & lower flowering bulbs in the front. To find the timing of blooms & their flower heights please see our section on bulb types.

* You might consider planting a mix of bulbs that flower at different times. By doing this you will have flowers all season long.

Organic Matter - Especially when starting a new garden, the addition of organic matter such as peat moss or compost is a good idea.

Direction of Bulb - When putting the flower bulb in, make sure to plant with the pointy end upward (even if you do this backwards, in most cases the flower will still find it’s way topside). Tip: If confused on direction, just plant the bulb on its side & it will right itself.

Depth - Plant larger flower bulbs about 8 inches deep and smaller bulbs around 5 inches deep.

Spacing - Space large bulbs 3-6 inches apart and smaller bulbs 1-2 inches apart.

Fertilizer - Think of flower bulbs as built-in storehouses of food. Because of this no fertilizer is needed for the at least the first year.

For perennial bulbs that will come back year after year, you will do one of the following:

  • * Spread an organic fertilizer such as compost or rotted cow manure
  • * Apply a slow release bulb food on top of the soil.

Note: Do not mix a fertilizer in the planting hole because it could burn the roots.

Caution - Do not add bone meal to your bulbs as some have thought. This has little nutritional value and will encourage pest and possibly dogs to dig up your bulbs looking for bones.

Summary of Flower Bulb Planting Tips:

  • Bulbs do not do well in soggy areas – have good drainage
  • Flower bulbs love sun – full or partial is good
  • Fertilizer is not needed for the 1st year
  • A good compost can be beneficial at planting time
  • Plant several bulbs together in bunches
  • Plant large bulbs 8” and small bulbs 5” deep
  • Space large bulbs 3-6” apart, smaller bulbs 1-2” apart

You are going to love the results of planting flowering bulbs. It’s easy & Fun plus you’ll amaze your neighbors with great results in your garden.