Spring flowering bulbs

It is that time of the year again when it is the last minute scramble in the garden starts to happen. I don’t really worry about too much other than bringing in the plants before frost and deciding where to plant some more spring flowering bulbs.

Spring flowering bulbs can include daffodils, tulips, crocuses, hyacinths and many more. This is also the time to start thinking of those hardy lilies that you can plant in the garden including the martagons. We have a tradition in our house each spring as we walk around the farm looking for signs of spring and waiting for those tulips to come up to tide us over until the other flowers start blooming again. There are times when we plant those bulbs that we might not be able to decide which way is up on the bulb. There may not be enough rootlets on the bottom of the bulb for us to figure that out. It is perfectly acceptable to plant those bulbs on their side and let Mom Nature go from there. The time frame for planting bulbs is until the end of October after that it is pretty much dependent on the weather. Generally speaking, in our area after Halloween, it is too late. There are bulbs for sale all over our area in our local stores that are wonderful choices for our gardens. In the wild, most often you will find groups of plants in 3s so if you want that natural look, that is what you should shoot for. You might have some trouble remembering where you need to plant more tulips or daffodils but there is a remedy for this too. Next spring, when your spring blooming plants come up, mark them with a small plastic plant marker. In the fall, with any luck, that plant marker will still be there and you can see where you need to add some spring color.

On the flip side, there are bulbs that need to be dug up at this time of the year too. Gladiolus bulbs, elephant ear bulbs, canna lilies and the like. These need to be dug up and have the dirt gently wiped off of the bulbs and have the tops cut back. These, after they have dried sufficiently, should be placed into a brown paper sack along with some peat moss to dry. These will keep nicely if left in the bag for the winter in a cool, dark place. A couple of times throughout the winter, remember to check them and remove any that are no longer any good. Bulbs that are just dug up can be laid somewhere protected and in a place that they will not freeze, until the remaining soil comes off of them. If you are like me and raise several different kinds of summer blooming bulbs, you can keep them in separate bags for ease of planting for the next year.

If you have not tried your hand at raising scilla, allium, daffodil, fritillaria, and crocus, here is another reason to do so. These spring blooming plants often times serve as a food resource for pollinating insects such as bees. These are often the first blooming plants that pollinators will find in our Minnesota gardens and woods. This is something that we all can do for little money to help out those pollinators. And remember, as fall turns into winter, allow some of the hollow stem plants that will remain in your garden to stay (phlox is one of them) for the bees to use as an overwinter spot. We can help bees by planting flowers, but nesting habitat is important too. Roughly 60-70 percent of bees nest in the ground. You can help them by leaving patches of ground undisturbed and leaving some bare spots. The other 30 percent (of bees) are cavity-nesting, using hollow plant stems or holes in wood, according to Aaron Irber, Research Scientist UMN Dept of Entomology and Elaine Evans, UMN Extension Educator.

For more information on gardening, you can reach me at s.dejaeghere@me.com


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