In the garden: Plant bulbs now

Think spring—fragrant purple hyacinth, cheerful yellow daffodils and classic red tulips. With some planning in November, gardeners can enjoy a colorful show of these spring-blooming bulbs.

Hardy bulbs can be found at local garden centers and mass merchandisers. Online, check out Brett and Becky’s Bulbs (brettandbeckys.com) for a wide selection. For the best results, choose the largest bulbs available; they are the ones with the most stored energy for flowers and foliage.

Gardeners can begin planting the bulbs now until late November before the soil freezes. According to a fact sheet from the Ohio State University Extension, daffodils are best planted in September or early October because they require a longer period for root development.   

The bulbs grow best when planted in well drained soil and full sun, but with protection from the hottest midday summer sun. Try under or near large deciduous trees that filter the afternoon sun. Those planted in full sun will bloom earlier than those in partial shade.
Plant the bulbs pointy side up at the depths specified, generally two-and-a-half times their diameter. For a greater show, consider planting in clumps or irregular masses rather than singly. Try digging holes the size of dinner plates, or digging wide, curving trenches and position the bulbs in the bottom.

Bulbs can also be beautifully intermixed. Try layering different types of bulbs from bottom to top in the same hole to create companion plantings or a succession of blooms. For example, Dutch hyacinths can be planted six inches deep, lightly layered with soil, then overplanted with grape hyacinths at five inches depth. The two bloom simultaneously with the grape hyacinths creating a soft skirt beneath the larger hyacinths.

For more details including bulb protection from rodents, read the fact sheet at http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-Fact/1000/1237.html.

Teresa Woodard is a volunteer with the Madison County Master Gardeners. Questions and gardening news items are welcomed at 740-852-0809 or by e-mail at madison@columbusmessenger.com.

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