Plant Spring-Flowering Bulbs
October and November is a perfect time to plant these spring-flowering bulbs.
Tulips, the queen of bulbs, come in every color possible. They are classified by bloom time; early, mid, and late season varieties (that translates to blooming mid-April, late-April and early-May). Tulips also come in different heights; shorter varieties blooming earlier, and so forth.
As beautiful as they are, tulips are best replanted every year, or at least every two or three years.
Daffodils, also known as Jonquils and Narcissus, come in various combinations and shades of yellow, white, cream, orange, and pink. Daffodils also bloom at various times, but early spring is definately when they show their stuff.
Tough, rodent and deer resistant, daffodils are a type of bulb that keep getting better every year. Place these bulbs behind perennials and low growing shrubs so that they can be seen when they are in bloom but the foliage is hidden while waiting for the foliage to turn brown (usually in June).
Crocus bloom at the first hint of warm weather, along with pansies that were planted the previous fall. These small bulbs bloom close to the ground and are best enjoyed along the edge of gardens, near steps leading into the house, and even naturalized under trees in the lawn.
Purple and yellow are the most popular colors of crocus, but they can be found in white and blue as well. Older bulbs produce more flowers over a longer period of time. Like daffodils, crocus get better and better each year.
Hyacinths are best known for their heady fragrance. They come in varying shades of purple, pink, yellow, and white and bloom in mid-spring. Hyacinths are short (just 8-10″ tall). Plant them so you can enjoy their fragrance as well as their flowers.
Alliums bloom late in spring and are best known for their large purple, lollipop-like flowers. Related to onion and garlic, Allium is not generally bothered by pests. These bulbs come back year after year, and their flowers even dry well, another sign of their durability.
Allium comes in various heights and bloom sizes. They make quite an architechtural statement in the garden. Place them where they will attract attention. Some of the very small varieties of Allium come in other colors, such as yellow, red, and blue.
Hyacinthoides bloom in blue, pink, and white and grow about 12″ tall. Previously known as Scilla, these bulbs are hardy and get better each year.
Leucojum is a type of snowdrops, white with hints of green and grow just a few inches tall. Like crocus, this type of bulb is one of the first to bloom in early spring.
Fall-blooming Daffodils look like a yellow crocus, and like Surprise Lilies, they bloom in the fall. They only grow about 6-8″ tall. Their foliage shows up in the spring, go dormant, and then blooms show up in August or September.
Dutch Iris is a type of iris planted from a true bulb, not a rhizome. These thin petaled flowers are borne on delicate stems and bloom in late spring. They come in an assortment of colors. Dutch Iris make a great mixer amongst perennials or annuals, as well as a great cut flower.
Planting Tips for Bulbs: Well drained soil and sunny locations are usually the main requirements for most hardy bulbs. Add a little bit of bulb fertilizer in the soil below where the bulb will sit (an 1/8 teaspoon per bulb). Mulch new plantings before winter. Water before winter if dry.
Larger bulbs (tulips, daffodils, allium, and hyacinths) should be planted 6-8″ deep.
Smaller bulbs (crocus, leucojum, and dutch iris) should be planted about 4″ deep.
Preparing for Winter
Mid to late November is usually the best time for all winterizing activities.
- When mulching to protect special plants for the winter, wait for the ground to cool down before applying thick layers of mulch (after Thanksgiving). Roses (not Knockouts or other “own-root” roses), new plantings, crape myrtle, and marginally hardy plants are examples of plants that are mulched heavily for winter.
- Apply Wilt-Pruf to broadleaf evergreens (Azalea, Rhododendron, Holly, and Boxwood) to prevent winter damage. Even needle evergreens benefit if exposed to strong winds or late afternoon sun during the winter.
- Cut off the dead foliage of perennials for a cleaner look to the garden.
- Wrap trunks of fruit trees, maple trees, and newly planted trees to protect the trunk from sunscald and freeze cracking.
- Spray shrubs with animal repellent, such as Bobbex, to discourage critters from chewing on your favorite plants all winter.
- Should our weather pattern change and the rains quit, a good thorough soaking of new plantings (trees, shrubs, perennials, and bulbs) is a must.
Moving Plants Indoors
As temperatures drop, the inevitable needs to happen….moving non-hardy plants inside for the winter.
Tropical plants, such as houseplants, orchids, ferns, hibiscus, or any plant you intend to keep over the winter, should be moved inside before night temperatures reach 40 degrees. The colder the temperature that plants are exposed to, the more stress they must endure when moving inside. Mid-October is a good time even if frost hasn’t occured.
Three things can happen when moving plants inside:
- Leaves turn yellow and drop off
- Flower buds dry up before opening
- Insects show up days to weeks after moving inside
The moisture needs of your plants will be different once moved inside, so watch the watering closely for a few weeks. Most likely, the plant will dry out quicker and may wilt before you notice. Or worse, you keep watering without paying attention and root rot sets in.
Though plants don’t need a lot of fertilizer from November to February, a light feeding at the time of moving in may reduce the stress.