Friday, November 21, 2014

It's Time to Plant the Bulbs - Part I

And that is precisely what we did last weekend.  Some weeks ago, you will recall, we stopped by Behnke's Nursery and picked up several varieties of bulbs.  Those bulbs have been sitting, patiently waiting for cold weather to arrive.  Finally, this past weekend, cold weather arrived and the bulbs were planted.  We are experiencing this polar vortex or whatever they are calling it this year along with everyone else in the country.  Except our friends in Florida, which we will let pass because Florida has its own issues during hurricane season.  So we will allow them a reprieve while the rest of us are freezing.

Ordinarily, I wait until the arrival of winter to plant hardy bulbs.  This year winter arrives on Sunday, December 21.  But cold weather arrived early, so into the ground with them.  Or in this case, into the pots with them.

First we gathered our clay pots together and determined which sizes to use for which bulbs.  I put a handful of fallen leaves in the bottom of each pot to cover the drainage hole.  These will work just as good as gravel or a shard of broken pottery at deflecting the flow of water.  They will also decompose over time and add essential nutrients to the soil.  A win-win.

Then I gathered all of my bulbs together and planned how I wanted to plant them.  All of one kind together in one pot?  A few of these and a few of those in a pot?  Mix up the colors a bit?  Do some thinking and decide how you would like your pots to look in the spring.  For this first pot I planted all crocus.

I find the planting guidelines on the packaging very helpful.  Some bulbs are planted deeper than others and this handy guide lets you know how deep to plant each variety of bulb.  It also lets you know how tall they will eventually grow and the sunlight requirements.  Very helpful to have this information right at your fingertips.

For the crocus, they need to be buried 4" into the soil.  So, I filled the pot until the soil reached 4" from the top, using a tape measure to make certain I got it just right.

Then it was time to add some Bulb-Tone.  This really does give your bulbs a boost.  Those early years when I was just learning about gardening I did not use Bulb-Tone and I had less than spectacular results.  Little by little, as I learned more about gardening I discovered the benefits of Bulb-Tone and now I use it every year.  You are lucky that you are a regular reader of Welcome to Crest Avenue because you will know about this much sooner in your gardening adventures than I.

A slight handful of Bulb-Tone added to the pot, just enough to cover the top of the soil.

I put another light layer of organic soil over the Bulb-Tone and then set about placing my crocus bulbs.  Fortunately, the entire bag of 30 fit perfectly in this ten inch pot.  Pointy sides up!!!

These bulbs are very nice.  They are all nicely shaped and firm and as you can see from the picture above, very healthy.  They started to sprout while waiting to be planted.  That's OK.  They will make it through the winter.  Do not buy bulbs that are mushy or moldy.  Those bulbs are not healthy and you will not get a good result in the spring.

Happy with the placement of all the crocus bulbs, I set about covering them with more soil.

And finally I had a full pot of crocus planted and ready to put in a somewhat secluded area for the winter.

In addition to the crocus, I planted several other varieties of bulbs.  See below.

These beautiful narcissus.  Only eight in the bag, but I planted them all together, so that will make for a spectacular show in the spring.  Here is my philosophy on bulb planting.  If four will look good in the pot, eight will look better.  Actually, that is my philosophy, ... period.  If one wreath will look good on the front door, two wreaths strung together will look better.  If two candles look nice on the mantel, five candle will look better.

And then there were the parrot tulips.  Tulips are my very favorite of all the bulbs.  But parrot tulips are even more of a favorite.  I think they are extraordinary and rather exotic looking.

More parrot tulips in this vibrant reddish/pinkish/yellow.  Really beautiful.

And finally, for this round of bulb planting, this beautiful collection of blue/white/purple hyacinth. These planted all together in one large pot.

I expect to have a beautiful potted garden of hardy flowering bulbs in the spring.  I can't wait to see what we end up with!

Part two of this post will deal with some additional important information for planting fall bulbs.  Be sure and come back to see that post.

(This is part one of a two part post on fall bulb planting)