October is a month where for many gardeners the first frost arrives as a signal that fall is truly upon us and the cleanup before winter begins. However, just because it’s getting cold doesn’t mean you still can’t be planting something in your garden! The first frost in your area is a good reminder that you can plant flower bulbs now for a beautiful display of flowers in the spring. Planting Daffodils, Tulips, Crocus, and Hyacinths now, before the soil freezes, enables them to establish strong roots for the winter ahead.
Now that you’ve got your spring flowering bulbs what do you do with them? The first thing above all else is to start with a healthy bulb! The bulb should be firm with no soft spots or signs of mold or fungus on it. The next step is deciding where you are going to plant your bulbs. Spring flowering bulbs require rich soil that drains well. Too much moisture will literally rot the bulbs so this is a must! Bulbs also require lots of sunshine and in some cases, you can even plant bulbs around your trees as by the time many trees have fully established their leaves the bulbs will probably be finished blooming.
Once you’ve decided on your planting spot it’s time to dig the hole for the bulb. It’s important to pay attention to how deep you are planting the bulb as if you plant the bulb at the wrong depth it may not come up at all. The packaging that the bulb comes in will tell you the proper planting depth but a good rule of thumb is larger bulbs like tulips and daffodils should be planted 6 to 8 inches deep and smaller bulbs like crocus and grape hyacinths should be planted about 3 to 5 inches deep. You can use a tool that is specifically made for digging holes for bulbs which usually has a guide on how deep you are digging the hole or you can use a spade and a tape measure to ensure you have the proper depth.
Once the hole is dug you want to take the bulb and be sure to plant it with the pointed tip facing the sky. Many new gardeners have done all the hard work of digging the holes and then put the bulb in upside down resulting in a lot of disappointment in the spring. You can space the bulbs 2 to 4 inches apart; planting them closer together does create a more dramatic impact in my opinion. Simply replace the soil in the holes and water the area in and you are done. This is a good time to put some sort of mark to identify the space where you planted the bulbs so you don’t forget where they are! If you are in an area that has problems with animals digging up the bulbs you can try to put a little red pepper in the hole to ward them off. If you have other suggestions on how to control these marauders please share them with us on our Facebook page. If you’ve never tried to grow spring-flowering bulbs why not give it a try?