Posted by: Dennis Hinkamp on Oct 14, 2006
Plant Bulbs Now for a Colorful Spring Garden
Writer: Julene Reese, 435-760-9302
Contact: Jerry L. Goodspeed, 801-392-8908
fall Bulbs beckon spring
LOGAN — Boxes of bulbs are now on store shelves, luring gardeners and making it nearly impossible to resist the attractive pictures. Is there a chance that planting what is in the box might transform a landscape into a replica of the picture on the box? The answer is yes, according to Jerry Goodspeed, Utah State University Extension horticulturist.
“Whether by accident or due to careful planning, planting now can indeed make flowerbeds more colorful and beautiful next spring,” he said. “Spring-blooming bulbs can create a masterpiece in the landscape and can make up for neglect that may occur the rest of the year.”
The most common spring-blooming bulbs are tulips, daffodils and crocus, he said. Low-growing crocus in traditional purple, yellow and white are generally the first to bloom in the spring. When planting, group them in clumps that are not prone to snow cover.
“It would be a shame to cover a colorful cluster of crocus with snow when shoveling the walk after a March snowstorm,” Goodspeed said. “Placement is important.”
Tulips are definitely the most popular bulb, with a wide variety of colors, shapes, sizes and blooming times. When selecting tulips, there is a myriad of choices, he said. Most tulips are arranged in the nursery according to their bloom times, whether they produce blossoms early, midseason or late. To extend the bloom time, choose varieties of each to incorporate a well-rounded planting scheme.
“One trick that brightens a landscape is to group tulips in thick clusters,” said Goodspeed. “Creating these spots of concentrated color can distract the eye from other not-so-inviting areas of the landscape. This explains why I wear very colorful ties.”
It is also possible to select a variety of heights, he said. Some gardens have tulips that are all the same height, which results in a one-dimensional plane of color.
“I prefer to plant bulbs that grow different heights,” he said. “This adds depth and dimension to the area, and creates a little more interest. Depth can also be achieved by planting pansies or other biennials with bulbs.”
Color is another design element to consider when planting tulips. A solitary color can be truly spectacular, or using two to four colors can provide even greater impact, he said. No matter what is mixed or matched, color works. Three or four varying hues in each grouping work well.
Daffodils are typically yellow, but newer varieties come in white, orange, pink and peach, Goodspeed said. However, newer varieties are not always as vigorous, and sometimes larger blooms droop.
When picking out bulbs from the box, check for firm, healthy specimens free of rot or soft spots, he said. Generally, larger bulbs are better. Plant them according to the accompanying instructions, or plant them in the soil at a depth three times the bulb’s height. Bulbs can be fertilized at planting, or a liberal amount of a high nitrogen fertilizer can be applied next spring while they are blooming.
“Fall is an opportune time to walk through your favorite nursery and enjoy the pictures on the bulb boxes,” Goodspeed concluded. “Don’t resist the temptation to buy enough for a large grouping in the landscape, and be brave when it comes to selecting varieties. You might surprise yourself with something spectacular next spring, even if it is by accident.”