August Is the Time to Order Fall Bulbs!

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20170809A Longfield Gardens

For beautiful spring flowers, you have to order bulbs in the fall. Photo: Longfield Gardens

If you intend to plant bulbs for bloom next spring—tulips, daffodils, squills, hyacinths, crocuses, etc.—or autumn-flowering bulbs—autumn crocuses, colchicums, etc.—, late July or August is the time to send in your orders!

20170809B IBulb

Always finding the same old bulbs in your local garden center? Mail order sources will vastly broaden your horizon! Photo: iBulb

True enough, a certain choice of bulbs will show up in your local garden center in September … but not necessarily the varieties you want. My local garden centers seem to offer almost only Triumph tulips, for example, yet they’re short-lived bulbs and I prefer perennial tulips (botanical tulips, viridifloras, Darwin hybrids, etc.). And they sell the same crocus varieties year after year, whereas I want ones I don’t already grow. Plus, they offer no rare bulbs at all, just run-of-the-mill varieties.

For a reasonable choice of bulbs, I have to order from a bulb specialist. And if you’re a serious bulb gardener, you’ll eventually find yourself in the same position.

For an eye-opening choice of bulbs, Canadian gardeners can try Fraser’s Thimble FarmsBotanus, Phoenix Perennials or Veseys. Americans will find a wide range of choices at Brent and Becky’s Bulbs and Longfield Gardens.

Have yourself a great bulb shopping spree!

Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

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When to Plant Bulbs

septembre 24Each expert has a different answer when it comes to recommending when to plant fall bulbs. I thought it would be fun to put some of them together in one text. They include:

  1. When the soil temperature is below 50˚F (10˚C).
    2 When night temperature consistently remain below 55˚C (13˚C).
    3 When fall leaves start to change color.
    4 When the crickets stop singing.
    5 When squirrels bury more acorns than they eat.
    6 When birds begin to leave for the South.
    7 When you have to start heating your home.
    8 When the air smells of burning leaves.
    9 When the grapes begin to ripen on the vine.
    10 When hostas are starting to turn yellow.
    11 When the air has that “leaves after a rain” smell.
    12 When your dog only lies down in full sun.
    13 When children begin to put their coats on without you needing to remind them.

Personally, I plant anytime between when the bulbs arrive in stores and the ground freezes hard.

(Thanks to Sally Ferguson of Ferguson Caras LLC for the idea and the info.)

Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

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The Rule of Three

septembre 16The basic rule for planting bulbs is to plant them at a depth equal to three times the height of the bulb and to space them at three times their diameter. In very cold climates (zone 3 or less), it may be helpful to bury hardy bulbs deeper than normal, up to a depth equal to six times the height of the bulb. That way the bulb will be better protected against the cold.

It is also worthwhile making am exception for hybrid tulips, like Triumphs, Parrots, and Darwin Hybrids. You’ll find that they will be more more perennial and better protected from squirrels if you plant 1 foot (30 cm) deep. That’s about twice the usual recommendation.