Plant bulbs now, save later

Published 10:07 pm Thursday, November 11, 2010

If the heat kept you indoors and out of your garden this summer, now is the time to take advantage of cooler weather. A little work now will save you time later and still make your garden the talk of the neighborhood.

Now is the time to get into your garden and plant bulbs to bloom in spring, according to Tim Johnson, owner of Johnson’s Gardens.

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“We’re really encouraging people to get out and pla

Angela Johnson White, employee and Johnson family member, sorts through bulbs at her uncle’s nursery, Johnson’s Gardens. Spring bulbs should be planted soon for best results.

nt them now,” Johnson said. “People come into the store in the spring and want to plant daffodils, but you’ve got to plan ahead and put them in now. They’re activated by the cold. They need the time to take hold and for their roots to grow, but your work now will more than pay off in the spring.”

While bulbs have been popular in Europe for years, they’ve recently been making a resurgence in American gardens, according to Johnson. Popular varieties include daffodils, tulips, hyacinth, crocus and iris.

“Plant them Thanksgiving week,” Johnson said. “Any earlier, you risk the temperatures rising and the bulbs trying to come up, but once we’re well into November it’ll usually stay cool. So, while you’re out there planting your pansies before company comes, under-plant them with bulbs and in spring you’ll have a wonderful surprise.”

Bulbs should be planted about six inches apart and about two and a half times their height below the earth, taking care to place them deep enough to stay safe from critters.

“Squirrels love to eat bulbs,” Johnson said. “They particularly enjoy tulips and hyacinths. If they’re a real problem for you, consider planting daffodils. They’re poisonous.”

Make sure the bulbs have full sun and are watered thoroughly after planting. Then, simply wait until spring.

“You can pretty much just leave them alone all winter,” Johnson said. “We get enough rain during the winter that they’re pretty easy to take care of.”

A tip Johnson added was to plant bulbs in groups according to color, which will make a big impact in the spring.

For those looking for a more creative planting technique, Johnson recommends layering bulbs and planting pansies in a large pot.

“You put a layer of daffodils on the bottom, then a layer of tulips, a layer of crocus and then put pansies on top,” Johnson said.

Add just a little Osmocote fertilizer, water well and put it out into the cold for the winter, Johnson said.

“It’s a fun family project,” Johnson said. “Once the pansies start to die out in the spring, the crocus will start to bloom, then the tulips and then the daffodils. They’re just beautiful.”