We should never let a growing season end without investing in spring. Colorful leaves may be falling now, but having a plan for spring color will make all the difference as the snow recedes and we need a shot of color. Fall planted bulbs are a promise we make to ourselves that while winter will be long, spring will be beautiful.
Whether you decide to stick with a classic planting of the basics, such as daffodils and tulips; or you go for the high drama of allium and frittilaria, you will appreciate having thought ahead.
While some gardeners fill bare annual beds with bulbs for a mass of early spring color, a great way to work bulbs into your plantings is to mix them between established perennials and shrubs. Mixing a flush of tulips or daffodils into an existing perennial garden will provide a burst of interest before the perennials have had a chance to get going. The perennials will then help out by covering the bulb foliage as it yellows and fades.
While many gardeners will not stray from the classic triad of tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths, there are many small bulbs which will provide massive impact with little effort. From crocus to squill and corydalis, a rainbow of colors is available to brighten those dreary spring days.
Fall planted bulbs are also a great way to get your little gardeners involved. Bulbs are easily handled and fun for tiny hands to plant! Think about forcing some bulbs indoors so that your little gardeners will be able to get a close up view of what is going on outside under the snow and you will have a midwinter reminder that spring is real and will eventually return!
Some general rules to remember:
•The points on bulbs face up when planting. If unsure, plant sideways.
•Most bulbs are planted at a depth of two inches per inch of bulb diameter.
•An organic bulb fertilizer used at the time of planting will get everyone off to a solid start.
•If you look back at photos of your garden from last spring, you will have a great idea of where you really need the spring pop of color.
•Tulips will require extra protection in areas with heavy squirrel, rabbit, and deer populations; most other bulbs will be left alone.
•Bulbs generally grow best in a loose soil with added organic matter.