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Pick bulbs now for a stunning show next spring
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Do you want beautiful flowering bulbs next spring?

Now is the time to select what types of bulbs you want to plant and how you want to use them in your landscape.

Selecting and locating a desirable garden bed for bulbs will guarantee a show-stopping display every spring. When October rolls around, the selection and location should be finished, and the gardener will be ready to plant.

Bulbs are actually a plant part. Its function is to ensure the plant's survival during adverse weather conditions. When the bulb is planted underneath the ground it is dormant, and when warmer soil and weather emerge, it begins to grow its foliage up through the earth.

Many types of bulbs can be planted that grow well in Georgia. There are true bulbs and other bulblike structures such as corms, tubers, stems and rhizomes. They are all considered "bulbs" in terms of planting.

Site selection is important. Most spring flowering bulbs prefer light shade to full sun. Find a spot that provides at least six to 10 hours of direct sunlight per day.

Also, consider sites that are under trees. Most flowering bulbs produce foliage and blooms well before most deciduous trees leaf out, giving them ample sunlight through the cooler months.

Select areas that will be pleasing to the eye and arrange them in sizable groups for maximum show and color. Blooming bulbs in groups create an appealing aesthetic look in the landscape.

If daffodils are your favorite, there are more than 26,000 varieties in many shapes, sizes and colors.

Some even provide spicy to sweet fragrances when they bloom. And they are deer tolerant. Choose varieties that come up at different times in the spring through early summer to enjoy a longer display.

Early blooming daffodils include Erlicheer or Rip van Winkle. Mid-bloomers include Petit Four or Pink Charm, and late bloomers include Tahiti, Acropolis or Golden Bells.

Bulbs that are corms and rhizomes include crocus, hyacinths and gladiolus. Rhizomes include iris, canna and lily of the valley. Tuber bulbs include begonia and gloxinia.

When preparing a bed for bulb planting, consider a well-drained, sandy loam that stays moist. You can amend the soil with peat moss, sawdust, compost or coarse sand if needed. Incorporate a 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet of bed space. Add these amendments at least 12 inches into the soil.

Planting of bulbs can be done starting in October through December in most areas. If you purchase bulbs and do not immediately plant them, store them at around 60-65 degrees in a dry area.

Always select bulbs that are firm and have unblemished skin. When you are ready to plant them, the depth and spacing are very important to the success of the bulbs. A general rule of thumb for planting depth is two to three times the greatest diameter for bulbs 2 inches or more in diameter.

Spacing can vary from 1 to 2 inches to several feet.

Remember the landscape effect you are trying to achieve. Avoid planting in lines or spotty planting.

A grouping in a filled in circular pattern provides a stunning display.

Plant the bulbs upright with the fatter end going downward. Rhizomes and tubers should be planted on their sides. Press soil firmly around them and water them in to settle the soil.

Use mulch as a groundcover to protect them during the winter and conserve moisture around them. Mulch (such as pinestraw or bark) also provides an attractive backdrop when the bulbs begin to emerge in the spring.

So get out this weekend and purchase some spring flowering bulbs for fall planting. Beautiful autumn days are upon us.

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. Her column appears biweekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.

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