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Gardening with Wanda

A common question asked of the Hall County Extension office, brought to you by Wanda Cannon

POSTED: October 17, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Planting bulbs is one of my favorite activities in the fall. The anticipation of them coming up in early spring signals warm weather is on its way, and soon my garden will be full of color. What are some of the most commonly planted bulbs, and how and when do they need to be planted?

A wide variety of bulbs grow well in Georgia. Most are grown for their flowers. They can be grown in containers, shrub borders and naturalistic settings. My favorite is mass displays that provide an abundant show of color. Bulbs provide a certain magical appeal to a garden as you wait to see them pop up their sleepy heads in the spring and fall.

As the days shorten and temperatures cool down, it is time to start planting your daffodils, tulips, hyacinth, crocus and other spring blooming flower bulbs. Always buy from a reputable dealer. Avoid bulbs that look molded or discolored and ones that feel soft to the touch. Bargain bulbs are no bargain.

As always, bed preparation and maintenance is important. Planting depth and spacing of bulbs is essential to good growth. A general rule for planting depth is measure the diameter of the bulb and plant two to three times deeper (from top of bulb to soil surface).

For smaller bulbs, plant three to four times their diameter. Plant the bulbs upright, and press the soil firmly around them. Water the beds thoroughly to help settle the soil.

Spacing can vary from 1 to 2 inches to as much as several feet. Consider how much space each plant will need and what sort of landscape effect you want to achieve. I like to plant them as close together as I can get away with. Avoid spotty or line arrangements. I like to plant them in a close, circular pattern to maximize the color show.

Mulches and ground cover ensure the bulb's winter survival. Pine straw always is a good choice because it provides a backdrop for bulbs to display their color and texture. Bulbs are amazingly resilient. Once they are planted properly, they can withstand severe cold.

Normal rainfall should provide enough moisture for spring flowering bulbs.

Bulbs add beauty and interest to the landscape. They come in many shapes, colors and fragrances. So be creative and experiment. Plant the bulbs in the garden near your annuals and perennials. They will add shape and contrast in your garden. Always plant sun-loving and shade-loving bulbs with other plants that require similar requirements.

Wanda Cannon is a Master Gardener trained through the Hall County program and also serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the Hall County Extension office. Phone: 770-535-8293.


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