By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Plan your spring garden now with bulbs in fall
Placeholder Image

A beautiful spring flower garden starts this fall if you'd like bulbs to be a part of it. Nothing could be more simple or rewarding than growing colorful tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other great varieties.

One of the best things about bulbs is that they look good just about anywhere. Incorporate them into existing annual and perennial beds, in front of shrubbery, along a walkway or underneath hardwood trees.

For the most dramatic effect, plant them in groups of 10 or more, preferably using all the same color. Most bulbs need sunshine, at least several hours per day, although a few do well in the shade. For the best results, always follow the directions on the package.

Of particular importance, bulbs require good soil drainage. Select a site where water does not stand and the soil doesn't remain soggy. If you're faced with poor drainage (as many of us in Georgia are), incorporate coarse amendments such as peat, bark, compost or coarse sand. Building up a raised planting bed will also help with drainage.

Bulbs often are categorized according to their hardiness, time of bloom and size. Under normal conditions hardy bulbs are those that survive cold climates. Semi-hardy bulbs are those that are hardy in milder climates but not reliable in colder climates without protection. Tender bulbs do not tolerate freezing and can be left in the ground only in warm climates.

When selecting bulbs, be sure to buy from a reputable dealer. Also, inspect the bulbs for soft spots, mold and discoloration. The bulbs should be firm and unblemished. Now is a great time to shop for bulbs as many of the garden centers are getting in fresh shipments.

If you purchase spring flowering bulbs now, you need to store them until next month which is an ideal time to plant. If you buy them early, you can them in a cool, dry area at about 60-65 degrees.

However, if you're willing to take up a little room in your refrigerator, you'll likely have better results. Store them in the bottom of the refrigerator at 40-50 degrees for about 10 weeks. And, don't worry; you can plant spring flowering bulbs as late as December.

While bulbs are forgiving, you want to avoid planting them too deep, which may result in poor flowering. For bulbs greater than 2 inches in diameter, plant them at a depth equal to twice their diameter. For smaller bulbs, plant at a depth equal to three to four times the diameter of the bulb.

Many old home sites commonly have bulbs growing here and there all over the property. This is called naturalizing and can be achieved fairly easily. One simple method is to rough up the soil surface with a bow rake just before fall leaf drop and scatter daffodils and crocus on the ground. Once covered with leaves, the bulbs will slowly take root and provide a nice show next spring.

For more information, check out the UGA Extension Publication, Flowering Bulbs for Georgia Gardens.

Billy Skaggs is agriculture agent and county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293.