Buying and planting bulbs the right way



There are many varieties of flowering plants, but few offer all the advantages of bulb plants.  For starters, bulbs are generally inexpensive to buy, and they can be purchased through the mail or over the internet, since they are durable and easy to ship.

Bulbs are also beautiful, and some of the most beloved flowers in the garden, such as hyacinths, daffodils and of course tulips, are bulb plants.  In addition, many bulbs can remain in the ground through the winter and bloom the next year.  

Even though bulbs are among the hardiest of all plants, it is important to exercise caution when planting them, and to buy only the best and most healthy bulbs.  By choosing the healthiest bulbs, it will be easy to create a beautiful and healthy garden year after year.



When shopping for bulbs, it is important to look for the firmest, plumpest bulbs you can find.  A good, high quality bulb will seem surprisingly heavy for its size.  It is important to avoid bulbs that are too soft, since softness is often a sign of bulb rot.  In addition, bulbs that are very light in weight, or that appear shriveled or cracked, should be rejected.  These bulbs may have lost too much of their moisture to bloom in the garden.

The best blooms are generally provided by the largest bulbs.  For instance, the largest daffodil bulbs will generally provide the biggest daffodils, and the biggest tulip bulbs will produce the largest tulips.  Since bulbs bloom again and again, however, a most cost effective approach for the patient gardener is to buy small bulbs and allow them to grow over time.  Each bloom will be larger than the last, and letting your own small bulbs grow can be a real treat for the gardener.

After you have bought the best bulbs you can find, it is important to exercise care when planting them.  In order to thrive and grow, bulbs should be provided with a good well drained flower bed.  If you have a poor draining soil, you may want to plant them on a slope or used a raised bed for better drainage.

Many people like to prepare an entire bed only for bulbs, while others prefer to intersperse their bulbs with other kinds of plants.  Either approach can be great, but it is important to do the planting properly.  To plant an entire bed of bulbs, you should first remove weeds and other vegetation from the bed.  You should then spread between one and three inches of organic matter over the soil, then put down a small amount of a high quality fertilizer.  When using fertilizer, it is important to follow the instructions on the package.  After you have tilled and raked the soil, it is time to plant the bulbs.

Most bulbs should be planted three times as deep as the bulb is wide, so the average two inch wide bulb should be planted to a depth of about six inches.  In sandy soils or hot climates, the bulbs should be planted a little bit deeper, while in heavy soil they should be planted a bit shallower.  While it is fine to space bulbs close together, the more closely spaced the bulbs the more need there will be to divide them in a few years.

Using a bulb planter is a great idea when planting bulbs.  If you do not have a bulb planter handy, you can use a garden trowel to dig the holes.  Each hole should be dug a few inches deeper than needed, and a tablespoon of fertilizer should be placed in the base of each hole.  The fertilizer should then be covered with a thin layer of soil, on top of which the bulb should be placed.  The rest of the hole should then be filled with soil.

After planting the bulbs, you should be sure to water the bed thoroughly in order to get them off to a good start.  Proper moisture at the start will allow them to establish a healthy root system.



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