Saturday, November 28, 2015

How To: Planting bulbs

I planted over 230 bulbs this fall in two different areas which called for two different ways of planting.

The first area was a hosta bed on the West side of the house.  The bed is shaded by tall oak and maple trees during the summer but in the spring the bed gets several hours of full light before the leaves fill in.  I am hoping that the foliage will get enough light to keep them happy.  I had a bag of 55 daffodil bulbs and a bag of 60 crocus bulbs that I wanted to scatter among the existing hosts.  I cleaned up the bed, trimmed the hosta leaves back and laid out the daffodil bulbs evenly throughout the bed.  I did not want to disturb the roots of the hosta plants so I dug a 6 to 7” deep, narrow hole for each bulb.  I put the soil from the hole into a bucket to keep the area tidy and for ease of transferring back to the hole.  I put a large handful of compost at the bottom of the hole.  Next I put the bulb in, pointy side up and poured the soil from the bucket back into the hole followed by replacing the mulch that I had moved aside. 

For the crocus bulbs which only need to be 3” deep I put my trowel into the ground about four inches in and pushed it to one side creating a 3” v shaped hole.  I dropped the crocus bulb in and slid the trowel out and tamped the soil back down.  Since they are much shorter than the daffodil mix I planted, I kept them more towards the front of the bed so that the emerging hosta growth would not hide the flowers. The crocus planting went much faster than the daffodil planting.

The second area that I planted was on the north end of food beds 6 through 10.  There were a couple of perennials at the end of a few of them but since we can see that area from the house, I thought some color in the spring would be nice before the blueberry bushes leaf out.  Since I had an open space to work in, the way I planted the bulbs was different from before. 

I moved the bark out of the way and trimmed back the perennials.  In this case it was sedum.

I then dug a hole about 7” deep and 2.5’ long.  I put the soil into buckets to facilitate an easy refill of the hole and to keep it tidy.  I put down an inch of compost at the bottom of the hole and then was ready to put in the bulbs. Approximately 20 to 25 bulbs went into each hole.

The depth of planting for a bulb depends on its size.  Generally you plant the bulb a depth of 3 times its height.  Therefore a 2 inch daffodil bulb goes in 6 inches deep.  I pushed the big daffodils in a little deeper and the tulips a little shallower but all were around the 5.5 to 6 inch deep range.  I have read that planting them a little deeper is safer than too shallow.  Too shallow and they can come up too soon, be affected by freeze thaw cycles or found quicker by rodents.

I then filled the hole in with a couple of inches of soil.  I then planted the muscari on top.  Muscari has a lovely little habit of putting up leaves in the fall which is excellent for marking the site of previously planted bulbs.  I generally plant muscari with all my bulbs in any area where I might be digging or forget exactly where the bulbs are planted.  I did not plant crocus with the daffodils because I am not going to be digging about in that bed for a while. 

Once the marker mascara was in, I filled up the hole and replaced the mulch.

It rained the day after I planted so now all I need to do is have a little faith and wait for spring.  I am very proud of myself as I finished planting everything before the end of October.  In the past I usually end up putting in the last bulbs on a miserable cold rainy day in late November instead of the lovely sunny and mid 50s day I had.