Many of spring’s colorful tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, irises and other early flowering garden favorites, bloom best when their bulbs are planted in fall.
Fall planting insures that the flower’s root system becomes established prior to the bulb going dormant for the winter. Because most bulbs are bred to withstand a frozen ground, once the roots become established, the onset of spring signals the bulbs its time to shoot up and bloom.
Bulb Planting Tips
While each flowering bulb generates its own specific planting instructions, a couple general planting rules of thumb apply for all bulbs.
- Choose a garden space suitable for at least one row or circle of flowers. Gardeners interested in planting multiple rows need to consider flower height. Placing taller flowers in the back row allows both the taller and shorter flowers display room. Most varieties of bulb flowers enjoy a sunny spot, however some afternoon or early morning shading is acceptable.
- In areas with already established bulbs, cutting back flowers and leaves allows the bulbs an opportunity to refresh themselves. Once planted, bulbs generally need little fertilizer their first year.
- Planting bulbs begins by digging some relatively deep holes, up to eight or nine inches depending on the size and type of bulb. Soil around the planted bulbs should be topsoil complete with adequate nutrients and drainage.
- Extend the fall bulb planting season to areas outside the traditional residential setting. Support local community volunteer projects that promote roadside bulb planting.
Common Garden Flowers From Bulbs
Knowing how to plant is only the first step to planting flowering bulbs. The number of flowering bulb choices available to consumers coupled with the fact that once planted the flowers grow from season to season means consumers ought to have some strong color and style preferences prior to making the committment.
Daffodils (Narcissus), perhaps the most popular group of perennial bulbs, grow in temperate climates with minimal human effort. Early spring blooms explains part of their appeal.
Less known is the fact that daffodils also make decorative house plants. Readying the bulbs begins by refrigerating them in soil to replicate their winter resting and development cycle. Once removed from refrigeration and placed in the house, bloom time normally follows within the month.
For gardeners who like their flowers in bunches, there’s nothing like a bunch of hyacinth growing during the spring. The commerical bulbs come in many colors, with pink and blue common.
Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica), a native perennial of Europe, Asia and Africa, also blooms during cooler northern springs.
The large blue flowers provide contrast with the traditional spring yellow daffodils. Plants grow aggressively necessitating annual maintenance.
In most of the northern hemisphere, the bloom of the first crocus, even through the snow, represents a sure signal of beginning of spring in gardens around the world. Depending on geography, a garden of crocus can bloom in late January and early February.
Equally as early, the Snowdrop, another bulb favorite from Europe, blooms as early as the crocus in many areas. Like the crocus, it also can bloom with snow on the ground. That fact, plus the white petals on the plant, explain the name snowdrop.
Tulip Photography Tips
Spring blooming bold color petals on a simple green stem partially explain the enduring popularity of tulips. After a relatively colorless winter, the appearance of bright colors also catches the eye of many photographers. One basic tulip photography tip begins by stressing the importance of going out on a bright sunny day. Setting up a higher than usual shutter speed, somewhere in the 1/1600 sec range provides adequate lens time to capture the freshness of the tulip color.
The most popular of the spring bulb flowers come in a variety of colors. The tulip shown in the picture, orange petals against a black background was photographed in bright sunshine. Because the sun had only reached the petals at the time, the darkened background came through the lens naturally. During the editing process, the brightness of the picture was reduced by a factor of -15, producing the background color consistency.
Finding a new way to present multiple tulips in one frame adds a different take on tulips.