Want the Easiest Garden Ever? Plant Spring Bulbs
After a long winter, signs of spring brighten our days and give us hope for a fruitful season to come. Flowering dogwoods, native Eastern redbud trees, and cheerful daffodils speckle gardens and the sides of the road wherever you go. It’s rejuvenating to see these signs of life peeking up through the frosty ground and over the cloudy skies. Spring flowers are some of the most joy-filled plants.
Beyond the fact that they are lovely to see after a long winter, spring-blooming bulbs are just about the easiest plants to choose to begin forming a garden. Spring plants are low-maintenance, and they naturalize freely. There is a reason that highway crews plant them by the thousands in freeway medians and along throughways. They are jubilant plants that require little and bring great joy to those that view them. When you travel down secluded byways, you can easily see the signs of a good gardener – someone who brings low-maintenance life to the streets so that everyone can enjoy the abundance and beauty of springtime buds.
Look around you! In springtime, daffodils are by far the most popular bud. They are bitter bulbs, and won’t be eaten by deer or squirrels. You may also see purple irises and yellow daylilies brighten yards, alongside pansies, tulips, and Lenten roses. It is easy to recreate the joy you see around you and be the newest yard on the block that passerbys stop to stare at. Take it from the leading Northern VA landscaping experts at JK Enterprise: a spring garden is the perfect place to start if you want the easiest garden ever.
How to Start Planning Your Spring-Blooming Garden
Have we successfully convinced you that you want your own early-spring pick-me-up? Wonderful. Let’s get started. Unfortunately, spring is the worst time to plant spring-blooming buds. Spring-blooming plants are planted in the fall. Most classic spring bulbs, like daffodils, tulips, crocuses, and hyacinth, all require a cold-chilling period in order to bloom in the springtime. This means that they need to be cold for about 16 weeks before they will be ready to bloom. However, there are some bulbs that don’t need to undergo a chilling-period, like anemones, amaryllis, paperwhites, and ranunculus. However, if it’s not the winter but you’re eager to start your garden, you can practice with summer-blooming bulbs like dahlias, Oriental lilies, and gladiolus.
To start planning your garden, choose the right location for your plants. Most flowering bulbs thrive in full sun. However, just because your garden has trees doesn’t mean that it’s a bad place to plant. Because spring bulbs flower early, before deciduous trees regain their leaves, it can be safe to plan bulbs under shady trees. However, you should avoid planting bulbs in areas with permanent shade, such as the north-side shadows of fences, garages, or your home. There are also some bulbs that prefer shade, like snowdrop and trillium, which are both woodland bulbs.
Bulbs look most vibrant when they are planted in large clumps, which makes them look most natural. You can replicate this look by arranging bulbs in a specific pattern, or by tossing bulbs into the air and digging holes where they fall. Avoid planting in linear rows unless you are hoping for an artificial look.
How to Start Planting Spring-Blooming Bulbs
Bulbs are some of the easiest ways to start a garden because they are resilient and require little work. You can simply dig a hole in your topsoil, toss the bulb in, and cover it back up. However, there’s a bit of preparation work you need to do first. You want to choose a location for bulbs that has good soil drainage year-round, but especially in the summer. Bulbs don’t like wet soil, and moisture can cause bulbs to rot. This is worse in the summer when it is warm, but less vital in the winter. Bulbs are pretty resilient, though, and don’t require perfectly fertilized soil. Bulbs have the embryo of next year’s flowers already inside of them, so they don’t require extra fertilization while planting.
So you’re ready to plant—you’ve found the right bulbs and the perfect location. It’s important to plant bulbs at the right depth. They generally should be planted to a depth that is two- to three- times their height, but double check their packaging. Bulbs are very wise, though, and if they are planted at the wrong depth, they will often adjust over time, increasing or decreasing their depths in the soil.
Be sure to plant your bulbs right-side up! Usually, it’s fairly easy to tell which side is right-side up. You might see a stem that faces upwards or hair-like roots that face downwards. If you’re having trouble determining which side of a bulb should be facing upwards, you can plant the bulb on its side. The stem will work its way to the surface. Even if you plant your bulbs upside down, all hope is not lost. The step will often work its way to the surface, sprout, and flower, even if it takes them a bit longer.
How to Care for Your Spring Blooms
Bulbs are perennials, which means they come back every year. After a couple of years, they will start to multiply. If your bulbs are marked as “naturalizers,” that means they will spread freely and you won’t have to work on dividing them. Most other bulbs will start to struggle if they don’t get divided every four or five years. It’s not at all hard to do. In the late summer, after the blooms are finished, simply lift the plant with a garden fork and break it apart gently. Most will come apart easily, but once in a while you might have to cut them apart. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt them. Then, simply replant them again, spaced more widely. You might even have enough to start a new flowerbed somewhere!
That’s the joy of bulbs. They’re the gift that keeps on giving.