Durango BOtanic Gardens
Building Public Gardens Committed to Demonstration and Education
Bulb Planting Tips
The autumnal tease is here. A couple nights of frost, the changing colors, and the snow up high on the mountain tops signal the changing of the guard. We all scramble to get the wood chopped and stacked, resist turning on the heat, and unfortunately find matching socks (good bye flip flops) and the down jacket.
In the garden, we are dead-heading the perennials, adding some organic matter to the vegetable beds, looking for deals on plants and trees at the nursery (fall is a great time to plant), and hopefully some of you are looking at planting spring bulbs and garlic.
October is a great month to plant bulbs as our soils right now are pretty easy to work and have not frozen yet. If you plant too late, it may affect establishment and spring bloom. I would also recommend hand-picking out the bulbs you want, either at a local nursery or at the Durango Botanical Society’s upcoming Bulb Sale (see accompanying Get Growing article). Select ones that are large, firm and free from disease or rot.
Plant bulbs with the roots down and the pointy tip up. Not sure which end is down? Then plant the bulb on its side—it will figure it out. Bulbs should be planted 3-4 times deep as the length of the bulb. For example, if a bulb is 2” long, it should be planted 6-8” deep. I get it – digging in our soils isn’t always that fun with the clay and rocks and all, so have some flexibility in where you want to plant the bulbs. Or plant the bulbs en masse – this way you can dig a wider hole and reduce the recommended spacing a bit.
Lastly, water your bulbs well after planting and mulch. The need for bulb fertilizer seems to be debated, but if your soil lacks nutrients, adding fertilizer won’t hurt. Apply 2-4” of an organic mulch over the tops of the bulbs and then you’re done!
While I enjoy the daffodils, grape hyacinth, and the ridiculously wide array of tulips out there, some great (and not so common) choices:
Darrin Parminter, Horitculturalist, La Plata County Extension Office