Fall is officially here. Even Florida noticed its presence over the weekend with “chilly” temperatures in the low 50’s. The leaves are starting to change, football season is in full swing, and holiday decorations have already infiltrated our stores.
So its time to pack up your gardening supplies for the year, right? Wrong! Fall is the perfect time to start thinking about your spring flower garden. Some of our favorite spring flowers like lilies, daffodils and tulips are actually bulbs planted the autumn before.
Planting bulbs is the perfect project for everyone from experienced gardeners to the blackest of thumbs. The only trick is getting them in the ground six weeks before the ground freezes, which in most parts of the US is right about now.
Bulbs require a long period of cool temperatures to spark the flowering process, but need time to develop strong roots before a freeze. This usually equates to planting when evening temperatures average 40 to 50 degrees. If you are like us, living in Florida, it might still be a while before the ground is cool. Some bulbs, like lilies, ranunculus and daffodils, are hearty enough to be planted directly in the ground once it cools off. Just store them in your garage or storage shed for up to a month or two.
Keep the labels with your bulbs. It is virtually impossible to tell a yellow ranunculus bulb from a white one until it has bloomed.
Other bulbs, like tulips, hyacinths and crocus, will need to be pre-chilled before planting if you live in a warm winter region. Just stick them in a refrigerator set to the standard temperature of 40 to 50 degrees, for at least six weeks. A loose brown paper bags works great to store them in the back of a fridge.
Keep bulbs away from ripening fruit. The fruit gives off ethylene gas that will kill the flower.
Bulbs can be planted anywhere in your garden where there is good drainage and some sun. Keep in mind; your trees will have a lot fewer leaves in early spring so you will have sun in places you might not be used to. Don’t be afraid to get creative with where you plant. Just dig a small hole and plant the bulb with the pointy side up. This is a great project for small children. Large bulbs should be planted about 8 inches deep, while smaller ones can be planted 5 inches deep. And don’t worry about fertilizer, bulbs provide their own food.
Make sure they get water at least once a week and in a few months you will have a vibrant flower garden that is the envy of the block.
Go get planting!