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Past Articles Library | Flower Bulbs | 4 Common Spring Flowering Bulbs and How to Grow Them


 
 

With a cold winter behind us, many flower gardens will be woken up from their slumber by the presents of these early spring risers. While the 4 common spring flowering bulbs listed are not all those that are available, these are the easiest to grow.   But to have the best success in growing these beauties make sure to select firm bulbs that do not appear to be dried out.  Also, do not buy them up too far in advance.  Getting your bulbs in the ground as soon as you purchase them will improve your success rate.  Lastly, always buy up more than what you think you need.  The reason for this is that bulbs of any kind are one of the favorite foods of rodents.  While you can set traps and/or poison them, it is better to increase the number of bulbs to guarantee spring blooms verse trying to kill an unlimited number of rodents.  

Lily of the Valley

Nothing beats the smell of Lilies of the Valley.  While this spring flower is grown not from a traditional bulb, it is still classified as a flower that grows from a bulb.  The proper term to use when talking about Lily of the Valley propagation is “pips,” which are bulbous roots. 

When it comes to planting this spring favorite, location is everything.  Lilies of the Valley do not tolerate wet soils.  In doing so, make sure that your chosen location is well-drained. 

Lily of the Valley, while particular about soil moisture, is not that fussy when it comes to sunlight.  This plant can tolerate partial shade and full sun.

Once you have your location selected, it is a good idea to go ahead and add a good amount of well-seasoned compost or manure.  After this is mixed in, smooth out the soil.  Next, prepare the “pips.”  To do this, one will need to presoak the “pips” for 24 hours in lukewarm water.  This will hydrate the starts and encourage them to start growing.   If you think about it, this step actually mimics the spring showers that visit the garden yearly.  In addition to soaking the “pips,” one will need to snip off the last inch of each “pip.”  Again this will stimulate growth.

Next, plant your “pips” in a shallow trench.  Make sure that they are spaced at least 1 ½ inches apart.   Cover the “pips” with a thin layer of soil and water in.  In about a week, you should begin to see growth breaking the ground.

After the flowers have bloomed, leave the leaves to produce food for the “pips.”

While Lilies of the Valley are typically thought of as an outdoor flowering bulb, they are just as easy to force indoors.

Tulips

Tulips are one of those bulbs that take some planning.  First, you want to plant your tulip bulbs in a soil that is slightly acidic, well-drained, and fertile.  Also, you will need to plant your bulbs in the fall when the soil temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and 6 to 8 weeks prior to a hard freeze.   Also, the amount of sunlight is very important.  Tulips love full sun but if that is not possible, plant them so that they receive a good amount of afternoon sun.

Once you have your location selected in the fall, the next step is to plant the bulbs.  Tulips need to be planted deep and when I mean deep, I mean really deep.  On average, the typical tulip bulb will need to be planted at least 8 inches deep.  But do not stop there.  Soil beneath the bulb will need to be loosened for proper drainage so go beyond the 8 inch mark. 

After the hole is dug, make sure to plant the bulb correctly.  This means that the pointed end goes up.  Once the bulb is placed in the ground correctly, fill in the hole with soil and gently push down.  Water in completely when all your bulbs have been planted.

If everything goes right, you will start next spring with a fresh crop of tulips.  

Common Hyacinth

Another fragrant spring flowering bulb is the common hyacinth.   This bulb should be planted in the fall and should be located in a well-drained area that receives full sun to partial shade.  When ready to plant, loosen up the soil to at least 5 inches deep.  Since common hyacinths love fertile soil, it is a good idea to add a large amount of well-seasoned compost and bone meal to the soil.  Both of these substances will increase the fertility of the soil. 

Once the soil is prepared, dig down 4 inches and place your first bulb.  Make sure that the pointed end of the bulb is facing up.  Repeat this process every 3 inches.  When you have all the bulbs planted, fill in with soil and water in. 

Crocus

The crocus is one of those unique bulbs that comes in a vast array of colors and can appear breaking ground even through snow.  In doing so, you should expect to see these beauties blooming from winter to early spring.

Unlike the other bulbs listed, these bulbs are easy to use for naturalizing an area.  Just make sure to plant them in a sunny to partially shady location and avoid north side of building.

Also, avoid soggy soil.  Beyond that, the growth requirements are pretty simple.  To increase the fertility of the soil, add seasoned manure and/or compost along with shredded leaves.  Till or mix this down at least 10 inches into the soil. 

Once that is done, you will need to count back 6 to 8 weeks from your local hard-frost date.  This will give you the correct planting date for your crocus bulbs.   To give you an idea, if you live in the North this date can occur in September or October.  If you live in the South, this date can occur in October or November.  After you have your local hard-frost date, the next step is to dig holes or a trench that is 3 to 4 inches deep.  Next, plant your bulbs in clusters.  Unlike the other bulbs described, crocuses have a larger impact on the landscaping when they are grouped together compared to planting singularly in a row. 

After you have all your bulbs planted, cover the bulbs with soil, gently push down and water in. 

While it is stated that these bulbs can break through the snow to bloom, this type of growth does decrease the longevity of the bulbs.  To prevent this, place a simple cloche on top of the bulbs in February and/or March.  The simplest cloche to make is one created by cutting off the bottom of a milk jug.  Once that is done, you just place the top part of the milk jug over the bulb(s).  When using this approach, do not forget to remove the jug in the morning or simply unscrew the lid.  This will release heat and keep the crocus from getting too hot.  

Planting Forced Spring Blooming Bulbs

In the past, it was viewed that bulbs that were forced could not be planted again in hopes of blooms.  This fable has been proven incorrect.  If you choose to replant your forced bulbs, keep them watered and in bright sunlight.  In the fall when the bulbs begin to dieback plant them in the garden according to the requirements for that specific bulb.


 

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Plant Dwarf Varities

If you love fruit tress like apples, peaches, pears and plums, but don't have the room, plant a dwarf variety.

Most grow from 3 feet to 8 feet. They product tons of fruit and are easier to harvest because they are low to the ground.


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