Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tips for planting spring flowering bulbs

Spring flowering bulbs are great additions to any garden. Just when you think winter will never end, early blooming crocus poke their heads up through the snow, followed soon by the daffodils and then a parade of early, mid and late blooming tulips. 

 The best time to plant these bulbs is now, in October. The soil temperature is cooler, but still warm enough to allow the bulbs to root before the ground freezes. 

Begin by selecting quality bulbs. Choose bulbs that are firm and light tan in color. The type of bulb is also important. Crocus are the earliest of the spring blooming bulbs, followed by daffodils and then tulips.  

Bulbs come loose in individual containers or as pre-packaged assortments. Loose-packed bulbs allow you to mix and match color, height and bloom time. Pre-packed bulbs are convenient.  Pick up a package or two, take them home and plant them. Next, consider where you plan to plant your bulbs. For the best blooms, select a site where your bulbs will receive at least six hours of sunlight. 

Prepare the site by amending the existing soil with organic material, such as Earth Essentials Sheep, Peat and Compost or Organic Compost. Plan to lay down two to three inches of amendments to the site, then mix thoroughly with the existing soil to a depth of six to seven inches. You can use a spade or garden fork to prepare the ground. 

Once the site is prepared, you’re ready to plant your bulbs. Bulbs display best when you plant them in groups, rather than individuals. With a newly prepared bed, this is easy to do. Dig a hole between six and seven inches deep, broadcast some Dutch Bulb Food over the area, then cover the fertilizer lightly with soil. This allows the bulb to root into the fertilizer. Next, place eight or ten bulbs flat side down in the planting hole. Cover the bulbs with soil and water thoroughly. 

You may choose to plant some of your bulbs in existing beds. In this case, a bulb planter or bulb auger allows you to easily dig a hole and plant your bulbs without disturbing any perennials or shrubs already planted there. Once planted, mark the spot and water the site thoroughly. 

Check on your bulbs through the winter. They should be watered every four to five weeks, along with the rest of the trees and shrubs in your landscape. Bulbs planted now offer a profusion of spring color for many seasons to come. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Now’s the time to plant hardy mums


For late season color it's hard to beat mums. Also called garden mums or hardy mums, these fall favorites come in a rainbow of colors, including red, white, yellow and lavender. 

Mums make great container plants, sitting on the front porch, welcoming the fall season.  Hardy mums are also a colorful addition to your perennial beds and with a little care, will come back season after season. Start by selecting a spot in the garden that receives a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight. Mums planted in less than full sun will grow tall and scraggly, with reduced flower size. 

Next, amend the planting site with organic material, such as peat moss or organic compost. Mums will thrive in well-draining soil, something our clay soils don’t do. Plan to mix in equal amounts of amendments to the existing soil, some ten inches to twelve inches deep. The planting hole should be twice as wide as the container and half again as deep.

 Once the planting hole is ready, prepare the mum plant by pruning off all the remaining flowers.  

Leave the foliage in place, even after it dies back later in the season. This will help preserve moisture and protect the crown of the plant. 

Place your garden mum in the planting hole, making sure the crown of the plant is at the same level it was in the container. Fill in around the plant with amended soil. 

Next, mix up a solution of Root Stimulator and water the mum thoroughly. Root Stimulator will help the mum plant establish a strong root system going into winter. Plant to water your newly planted mums every four to five weeks through the winter season. Once the ground is cold, you can add a layer of mulch to help preserve moisture and keep the garden soil stable. Come spring, prune off the dead stems and gradually remove the mulch.

 Planted in the garden now, hardy mums will offer seasonal color as well as pollinator support for many seasons to come.