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What's Growin' On Stony Brook?

ďThe fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another's smile at someone and receive a smile in return, are to me continual spiritual exercises.Ē Leo Buscaglia

Picture1 If you have been keeping up with my articles, you know how I feel about the fall. I spend the season desperately trying to grasp onto whatever remnants of plant life still exist. I search out projects that will require anytime in the garden, just trying to keep some dirt on my hands. Letís just say I am not good at good byes! This year, just as last year and the one before that, I have been able to keep a little dirt under my nails with bulbs. I just received in our shipment containing 6,500 various bulbs and canít wait to get started. Planting can be a bit labor intensive but the payoff in spring is well worth the efforts. Check out these tips and enjoy a colorful and cheerful spring bulb bloom.

Choosing your bulbs. Just like perennials and trees, bulbs have sun/shade requirements. The bulbs we plant now will provide color before the majority of trees and bushes push out leaves for the season. An area that looks shady now may not be in early spring. The dark areas you battle during the summer will probably take to bulbs quite well to sunny spring bulbs. The sun exposure will also last long enough for the leaves to process and store some food for the next yearís growth. There is no need to worry about their survival. Picture1 If you are ordering your bulbs or buy them a little prematurely, make sure they are stored in a cool, dry, and dark area. They should be planted when the soil temperature is cool, when evening temperatures are around 40-50 degrees. Just donít wait too long, frozen ground is not fun to work and the bulbs will not last until next season. Also take note of the bloom time. The earliest crocus can be seen pushing through the last snow of the winter. The late tulips show off their beautiful blooms through May and into June. If planned properly, your fall planting can offer eye catching color from early March into mid-June. Also keep in mind the arrival of your spring perennials. I love the way my purple Allium pushes up through the silvery blue foliage of the low lying Nepeta ĎWalkers Low.í

Preparing your bed. Work the soil so it is loose and light. The only thing that bulbs really disapprove of is sitting moisture. Breaking up the soil will help remediate if you have an issue. It will also allow the roots to push through the soil with little resistance, helping their development and ensuring healthy growth. Bulbs will not require fertilization at the time of planting. Heavy fertilizers can actually burn the developing roots. Amending the soil with compost can be beneficial and would be easy while working the soil, but it is not necessary.

Planting. Always plant your bulbs pointy side up. The roots will develop from the flat part of the bulb, foliage and flower will develop from the point. Although it may be harder to differentiate the top from the bottom on some bulbs, even if you donít get it right, the bulb will most likely right itself. It is easiest, and most attractive, to do mass plantings. This is going to require purchasing a decent amount of bulbs, but as I said, a colorful spring awaits. Follow the planting depth on the bulbs packaging as well as the spacing. Also note the mature height of the flower. Plant the taller bulbs in the back with the shorter in front.

Bloom Time. This is the best part! Just sit back and welcome spring with the energizing colors of all the bulbs you planted. Picture2 Then, grab your shovel and start getting ready for my article on planting your spring annual garden!

Happy Gardening All!


Article Co-Written by:
Andrea Petterson, University Horticulturist

Tags: Grow Red

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