Just about every flower gardener will work with bulb plants at one time or another. Bulbs are loved by gardeners for the ease with which they grow, their hardiness and the fact that they can bloom again and again for many consecutive seasons without the need to replant. With all these advantages, it is no wonder that bulb plants are so popular among both new and experienced gardeners.
Choosing the right bulbs, however, is one thing that many beginning gardeners have trouble with. After you develop and eye and feel for finding the best bulbs, however, you will be able to spot them from across the garden center.
When choosing bulbs for your garden, it is important to choose the firmest and largest bulbs. The size of the bulb is important, since large bulbs are more likely to provide many blooms. The firmness of the bulb is a good indication of its health, and bulbs that are soft or mushy are unlikely to bloom. Bulbs are particularly susceptible to water damage. It is important to choose a bulb that is not to soft, but it is also important to look for cracks or scars. Bulbs with cracks or scars may have become too dry to bloom. Likewise, any bulbs that have begun to spout roots should be avoided, as they are unlikely to bloom properly once planted.
How bulbs are planted in the garden is important as well. Most bulbs are best planted in the fall, most commonly in early to mid October. The goal is to get the bulbs into the ground six weeks before the ground begins to freeze, so obviously the best time to plant will vary from location to location.
Bulbs should be planted in a well prepared soil, and the depth they should be planted will be determined by the type of bulb. For example, crocus bulbs are generally planted four inches deep, daffodil and hyacinth bulbs six inches deep and tulip bulbs at a depth of eight inches.
A simple gardening tool called a bulb planter is great for achieving a more uniform look to the blooming garden. Bulb planters can be used to easily prepare perfect looking rows of flowers. Those gardneres who prefer a more wild and freewheeling look, on the other hand, often dig a single hole and plant several bulbs in it. This approach can lead to spectacular, if somewhat unpredictable, patterns once the bulbs begin to bloom.
It is important to use a small amount of fertilizer at the bottom of each hole you dig when planting bulbs. The fertilizer should then be topped with a thin layer of soil, and the bulb carefully placed on top of the soil. It is important not to place the bulb directly on top of the fertilizer, as doing so could damage the bulb. Bulbs are always planted with the pointed end stick up and the flat, rooted side lying on top of the layer of soil. After the bulbs are in place, the rest of the hole should be filled with soil and the garden should be given a thorough watering.
Even though bulbs are among the hardiest of garden plants, there are a few important things to remember. One important technique to become familiar with is deadheading. The term deadheading should already be familiar to those gardeners who work with perennials. Deadheading is simply removing spent blooms in order to encourage more blossoms to develop. This process is important with bulb plants as well. When working with bulbs, however, it is important not to remove the leaves from the plants until the leaves have begun turning brown.
Taking care of the bulbs over the winter is important as well. In warmer climates, many bulbs can remain in the ground over winter. It is important, however, to remove tender bulbs such as dahlias, even in warmer climates. These bulbs should be stored over the winter in a cool, dry location.
Bulbs are wonderful plants for any gardener, from the newest to the most experienced. Their combination of hardiness, color and beauty make them hard to beat for any flower enthusiast.