PREPARING FOR SPRING

Fall ideal time to do some spring planting

October is prime time for planting and preparing spring bulbs for a spectacular showcase of bloom from April all the way into June. A few hard frosts and cooler soil temperatures make October the perfect month for planting spring-blooming bulbs in the garden and landscape.

Traditionally, fall means bulb planting as these treasured spring beauties require many weeks of cold temperatures in the soil in order to display their stunning spring colors.

Spring blooming bulbs provide a welcome burst of color after the season’s snows melt away and the drab landscape begins to waken with the new warmth of March and April. Favorites such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, allium and others are planted now to ensure a glorious spring emergence.

Planting spring bulbs is one of the easiest fall garden chores and should be a pleasurable outdoor experience for gardeners and homeowners looking to provide a beautiful spring display. To be out in the garden, working the soil and laying the groundwork for years of beauty to come should be a joyous and pleasurable task. Don’t make it too much work; rather, enjoy the experience of preparing to nurture these colorful beauties.

Fall planted bulbs can be easily planted in a number of ways. A bulb planter can be used to dig individual holes in sections of the garden for inserting bulbs in scattered fashion.

The best way to plant bulbs, however, is to create masses of color — drifts of blooms. This can be accomplished easily by digging large holes for mass planting of six, 12 or more bulbs in each location. Most fall bulbs are planted about 4 to 8 inches deep; the larger the bulb, the deeper the hole. The general rule is to plant bulbs about two to three times deeper than the size of the bulb. For example, a bulb 2 inches in diameter should be planted about 6 inches deep.

You can also create a layered look featuring multiple varieties of spring blooming bulbs by planting a layer of larger bulbs deeply in the hole, then covering slightly. Add a layer of slightly smaller bulbs and cover, then repeat until the smallest bulbs are planted about 1 to 2 inches deep. This is a great way to provide a bouquet of spring beauty in the garden.

An example of this type of planting would be to plant a layer of large allium bulbs in the bottom of the hole, followed by a layer of tulips slightly above those, then a layer of hyacinths, followed by a final layer of small crocus bulbs near the surface.

Creating and designing gardens with spring-blooming bulbs is an endless pursuit of elegance, color and beauty. Whatever you desire can be accomplished by using a combination of spring-blooming bulbs. Many gardeners arrange bulbs by color, mixing and matching varieties in a theme to create a showcase of color, texture and beauty.

To make this easier, many bulb companies now offer prepackaged blends of complementary or contrasting colors. You may find packaged bulbs in blends of purple, red, pink, peach and others. These prepackaged blends feature a number of different varieties that grow well together and provide a beautiful spring show.

As you plan your spring display, be sure to include a few specialty or unusual bulb plants in the garden. There are many varieties of allium, or ornamental onion, that are quite unusual and may provide blooms as large as soccer balls. There are also unusual tulips and daffodils that are quite different from the traditional forms.

October is time to gather your spring-blooming treasures and begin planting away as cooler days and bright colors arrive and our thoughts already turn to the coming spring.

Find Rob Zimmer on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RobZimmerOutdoors. Listen to “Outdoors with Rob Zimmer” from 4-5 p.m. Fridays and 7-8 a.m. Saturdays on WHBY.