Rafed English

How to Plant Flower Bulbs

Bulb flowers often provide the first color of spring, blooming as early as February in some regions. They are easy to plant, and they grow almost anywhere. The trick is remembering to plant them in the fall, before the ground becomes hardened with frost. This article provides information on how to choose and plant flower bulbs using a few different methods.

Choosing Bulbs

1. Buy your favorite bulbs. There are hundreds of varieties of bulbs to choose from, and most of them grow well in any region if you know how to care for them properly. Buy them from your local nursery or order some from a catalog. Here are some popular varieties to start with if you're new to planting bulbs:

- Crocuses: These flowers are usually white or purple, and because they bloom so early they symbolize the beginning of spring.

- Daffodils: These yellow or white flowers are early bloomers with a trumpet-like shape.

- Hyacinths: Pink, purple or blue hyacinths give off a lovely scent in the spring.

- Tulips: You can't go wrong with these classic bell-shaped flowers, which come in an endless variety of colors.

- Dahlias: These flowers are brightly-colored and bloom a little later in the season.

2. Know whether your bulbs are hardy or tender. Hardy bulbs need cold winter temperatures to thrive, so they are planted in the fall before the ground gets too hard. Tender bulbs die in cold temperatures, and need to be planted in the spring.

- Hardy bulbs are more common and include crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths and tulips.

- Tender bulbs include dahlias as well as less common bulb varieties.

3. Choose a range of types and colors. When you're deciding what bulbs to buy, mix and match varieties and colors. Choose bulbs that flower at slightly different points in the season so you'll be able to enjoy the blossoms throughout the spring.

Designing a Bulb Garden

1. Find a good spot. Bulbs need plenty of sunlight, but since they emerge before trees have grown new leaves in the spring, spots that are usually shady can work just fine.

2. Prepare the soil. Bulbs are hardy and grow well in most types of soil. Get it ready for planting bulbs by cultivating it with a hoe, making sure it is loose and free of rocks and weeds.

- Choose a spot with good drainage. If the bulbs are waterlogged they won't grow.

- Add a little compost as you cultivate the soil, especially if it's especially dry or sandy.

- Avoid areas shaded by your house or another building.

3. Lay out the bulbs in a decorative pattern. This will help you imagine how the bulbs will look when they grow. You could plant tulips around your mailbox, or make a row of daffodils along your stone walkway.

Planting the Bulbs

1. Dig holes for the bulbs. It's important to plant bulbs at the proper depth. If the package your bulbs came in doesn't include this information, look it up online to make sure you dig a deep enough hole for each type of bulb.

- Bulbs can generally be planted quite close together. If you want them to grow in clumps, dig a larger hole to accommodate more than one bulb.

- For large patches of bulbs, space the holes a few inches apart, and plant as many as you want.

2. Plant the bulbs. Bulbs are either teardrop-shaped or flat, and it's important to plant them with the right side facing up so that the roots can grow in the right direction.

- For teardrop-shaped bulbs, plant them with the pointy side up.

- For flat bulbs, plant them with the flat side up.

3. Add a little fertilizer. Once the bulbs are in their holes, you can add bulb food or bone meal, available for purchase at your local nursery. This will encourage healthy flower growth, but the bulbs are still likely to grow if you don't add fertilizer.

4. Cover the bulbs with soil and mulch. Fill the holes back up with soil and pat them a bit to make sure the soil is packed. Water the area, then cover with a layer of leaves or another type of mulch to protect the bulb beds.

Enjoying Bulb Flowers

1. Wait for spring. If you plant bulbs in the fall, you can forget about them until spring. They'll start popping up when the ground thaws and the weather turns warm.

2. Let them grow or cut them to enjoy indoors. Bulbs are abundant but have a relatively short growing season. They look beautiful outside, or you could cut them for an indoor bouquet that will last a few days in a vase of water.

3. Enjoy them again next year. Many varieties of bulbs grow for several years in a row. After about 2 -3 years, it will be time to plant new bulbs.

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