Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wait For It! Wait For It!

It’s the current popular tag line for an incoming joke line or statement.  It gets attention by making you stop what you’re doing and wait for it. 

Gardening has a tag line that calls for a “wait for it”.  Few things in nature give immediate results with the exception of laying out large sums of money.  Even then, nature will still hold something back or prove you’re really not quite as in charge as you imagined. 

Planting spring flowering bulbs is one of those long “wait for it” examples.  I’ve often thrown bulbs in the ground so fast and furious because of nasty weather that I’m totally amazed when I see something blooming next spring.

What’s the secret of healthy spring flowering bulbs?  Location!  Location!  Location!  Very few will tolerate sitting in poorly drained soil; they will rot.  Like most plants, they enjoy ideal situations.  To make them grow and bloom to their potential, amend the soil; especially clay.  I mention this because most of us have some clay in our Midwest gardens.  Clay holds moisture and then dries like a hunk of cement – neither beneficial to bulbs.  . 

Another little pesky issue is rodents.  If you plant your bulbs just perfect every year and then have none in the spring, rodents may be your problem.  Dig the hole, line the bottom and sides with chicken wire and then add your bulbs.  If cats and dogs are digging up your bulbs, lay chicken wire about an inch below the ground surface when covering the bulbs.   

If your bulbs bloom like crazy the first year and then nothing, again see if it is too wet where you planted (did they rot?)  Dig down gently and see what happened.  If there are empty shells or they are mushy, chances are they rotted. 

Many bulbs can be coated to discourage insect and disease damage.  If the bulb has little holes drilled in the sides, chances are it was insect damage. 

There are several fertilizers marketed for bulbs.  If you amend your soil properly, you won’t need these. 

A few folk remedies: 

·         Sprinkle bone meal around the planting site.  This usually gets every dog in the area digging up your precious bulbs. 

·         Adding hair, egg shells, and other stuff in the hole with the bulbs.  Essentially they are adding nutrients.  If you think they work, go ahead and use.  They will seldom do any harm.

Cutting flowers from your plants will not harm the plant.

Size of the bulb does matter.  Different species have different sized bulbs.  In each, you may find many different sized bulbs offered.  Basically the larger the bulbs in that species, the bigger and more healthy the plant.  That doesn’t mean you won’t get a lot of satisfaction from a bag of cheapies.

Last, do not trim off or tie in a bunch the dyeing leaves of spring flowering plants.  If they offend your senses, plant spring flowering bulbs where other plants will come up and eventually shield the site of the dying leaves.  These leaves are the way the bulbs get nutrients for the next bloom season.

We’ve been so very fortunate this fall to have ample time to plant spring flowering bulbs.  Hope you managed to throw several in the ground for your - wait for it – wait for it – beautiful spring display.

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