I was watching an old W.C. Fields movie the other day and suddenly found myself thinking about planting bulbs. I'll be darned if his big bulbous nose didn't get me motivated just in time for planting.Ê
Planting bulbs is so easy even shaky-handed W.C. Fields could get it right. Not that he would bother, since vodka is distilled from potatoes, not bulbs. But it really is a no-brainer.
You don't even need to know which way is up to plant daffodils and tulips correctly.ÊThe pointy end should face up, but when in doubt lay the bulb on its side, and it'll find its own way out of the ground. Just dig a hole with a shovel or trowel (heck, you can even use a spoon) and plop the bulb in the ground.ÊCover the bulb with twice its height of soil.ÊYou don't have to worry about getting this right, either.ÊIn our climate more bulbs die from wet than cold.Ê
Good drainage is the main reason many people plant their tulips in pots. Personally, I see a lot of benefits to this method.ÊFirst of all, the experts always tell us to plant bulbs in groups because single flowers look lonely and undramatic. And we can't have that!
Karen Beaver of the Wooden Shoe Bulb Co. gave me a fantastic tip. She suggested I plant the bulbs with soil in well-drained,
1-gallon plastic pots. Then I sink the entire pot in the ground so the lip of the pot is a little lower than soil level. A blanket of mulch covers any evidence of the plastic below.
In spring, when the bulbs are done blooming and start to look ratty, pull the pot out of the ground. Snap off the seed heads, but leave the leaves because the foliage feeds the bulb. Continue to water the pot until the leaves die down, then stash the pot in a cool place until you're ready to replant it in the fall. Fertilizer or bone meal isn't needed, but extra flower food does plump up the bulb.Ê
To get the best results, search for big, firm bulbs with no soft spots or mildew.
Another question that comes up a lot is what to do with indoor bulbs. Paperwhites are the easiest to 'force' into bloom.ÊPlace the bulbs on top of rocks or gravel in a watertight container.ÊThe water should touch the bottom of the bulb, and you will have color by Thanksgiving! Hold off the bloom by keeping the bulbs in a bag in the refrigerator.
After the bloom is gone, plant the bulb outside. I have a border at the side of my yard I call the 'bulb graveyard' for just such opportunities.ÊIf you have trouble with critters eating or digging up your work, lay chicken wire over the planting area and cover with mulch.
Here's some sage advice from Wooden Shoe to help us figure out how many bulbs it takes to get splashy results:
(bulbs per square foot)
'Gardening With Anne Jaeger' airs at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday on KOIN (6).