Now is the time to plant your tulips and daffodils

At the Foot of the Magic Tree by JLMphoto

If you are planning to have tulips or daffodils or any bulbs blooming next spring, this is the perfect time to plant them. Bulbs can be planted in the ground now until the soil freezes so hard that you can not dig it. But even though we are having frosts, so long as the soil is able to be dug, you can continue planting the bulbs.  If you fail to put your bulbs in the soil, pot them and keep them in a cold garage or in a cold refrigerator so that they will also bloom next spring.  Bulbs need that coldness to bloom.

If you plan to buy bulbs in the stores, many of them are now on sale- half price or better, be sure to squeeze the bulbs to make sure that the ones you are buying are hard. Don’t buy any bulbs that are mushy or empty. I would ask to open the package in the store to check before you pay for the bulb. You do not want to buy flowering bulbs that are no longer good. A good bulb feels hard.

Most bulbs come with instructions on how deep to plant them. Follow those directions. If you don’t have any instructions, there is a rule of thumb that says that you should measure the bulb’s height and dig the hole three times as deep as that measurement. But this is not always accurate because some bulbs, like the tree lilies, want a hole 12″ deep. However, if you don’t have instructions, you can always go online to find depth to plant or resort to the rule of thumb. See here.

Planting bulbs from the Daffodil Project in my front garden, Fall 2006 by Flatbush Gardener

Put some bulb fertilizer mixed with some of the soil from the hole in the hole and plant  the bulb  with the root down and the nose up- unless instructions say otherwise. Good directions for planting bulbs are given by the University of Illinois Extension.

Some bulbs, like daffodil bulbs are toxic so that animals won’t eat them. However, many bulbs are edible and may get eaten by voles or other critters. There are cages you can buy or make to put the bulbs in before planting. These cages don’t allow the critters to chew through to eat the bulbs. Directions for making these cages are here.

This GardenLady is trying something that no extension office would ever recommend doing and that is burying a moth ball with each edible bulb, hoping the smell will frighten the pests from chewing the bulbs. She is also putting a moth ball on top of the soil where it was planted in hopes that it will prevent squirrels or chipmunks from digging in the area. This is not the way moth balls are supposed to be used. So if you are against the use of moth balls, don’t follow my lead. And if you have dogs or small children definitely do not leave any moth balls around on the surface of your soil. The moth balls are toxic and you don’t want children or pets to get sick.  I don’t know how effective these moth balls are in deterring animals who otherwise might want to get to my bulbs, but I am trying this year and will see if it is effective.

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