North Coast Gardening | Now is the time to plant some bulbs – Times-Standard

This month plant some bulbs. They are on sale, come in a wide variety of colors and are exceptionally easy to grow.

Thinking ahead to spring at this time is a tough sell. It is fall, the trees are turning, everything screams pumpkin. The garden soil is only now just beginning to soften for any kind of landscaping.

So do the easy thing. Get some used 2- to 5-gallon shallow nursery containers. Fill with cheap potting soil and plant some bulbs. Daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and Dutch iris are the big flowering spring bulbs that will put on a good show. Mini bulbs like crocus, anemones and ranunculus grow quite well in containers.

If you are planning on using the same bulbs for planting next year, then by all means add some fertilizer to the potting soil. Fill the container 1/2 way with soil, then add a thin layer of 4-4-4 organic. Fill with more soil, then plant.

Place the potted bulbs in a sunny, but protected area of the garden. Usually, this means up against the south side of the greenhouse, potting shed, or house.  If you use a very well-drained potting mix at planting, then just place in a sunny place and let nature take its course.

Towards the latter part of winter, the bulbs will begin to sprout above the soil line. This is especially true with crocus and daffodils. Time to hunt for slugs and snails. Sprinkling a bit of organic slug bait will keep the nibbling down.

As flowers begin to emerge, you might wonder about what do with these less than attractive containers filled with beautiful flowers. Well, you could sink them into the ground in your favorite flower bed. Or, place them in favorite decorative containers and flower boxes. It is as simple as that.

When the flowers have declined, the bulbs still need to be maintained until they go dormant in early summer. Lift the pots, put them in a sunny place and take care of them as you would if they were blooming. As spring progresses, taper off on the watering. As the soil dries out, the bulb foliage will begin to yellow and wither. Now you have two choices. You can either leave the bulbs in their pots and go for another round next fall.  Or, remove all dried soil from each bulb and store in a cool dark place until next fall.

Terry Kramer is the site manager for the Humboldt Botanical Garden and a trained horticulturist and journalist. She has been writing a garden column for the Times-Standard since 1982. Contact her at [email protected].

North Coast Gardening | Now is the time to plant some bulbs

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