STILLWATER – With the recent arrival of the fall season, it may seem a bit premature to already be thinking about spring. Gardeners, however, need to plant their spring-flowering bulbs now in order for them to be ready to bloom next spring.
David Hillock, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension consumer horticulturist, said now through the end of October, and possibly early November, is the best time to get those bulbs in the ground.
“Bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and hyacinths should be planted now. Your local garden center should have a big selection this time of year, but shop now in order to get the largest and healthiest of the bulbs,” Hillock said. “The larger bulbs tend to bloom better than the smaller bulbs. Over time, smaller bulbs will grow into larger ones.”
Other varieties to consider include the Peruvian lily, giant allium, wood anemone, blackberry lily, leopard flower, crocus, crown imperial, checkered lily, snowdrop, grape hyacinth, wood hyacinth or squill.
When you are ready to plant the bulbs, dig a hole to a depth of about two times the diameter of the bulb. The area should be well-drained because most bulbs will rot in heavy, wet, clay soils during the winter. Try to plant in a fairly sunny area. Remember, the angle of the sun will change, so select an area that is sunny in the spring.
Think outside of the box when planting bulbs. Forgo straight lines and think in terms of big pops of color. Scattering the bulbs throughout an area can provide a big impact. You also can group the bulbs together in a circle or triangle to add even more visual interest to your garden. Hillock said bulbs traditionally do not need fertilizer when planted, but consider covering the ground where they are planted with compost.
“In addition to spring-flowering bulbs, don’t forget pansies can be planted now, along with flowering cabbage and kale, and other cool-season flowers such as mums to add pops of color throughout your landscape,” he said. “The pansies will be quite happy through most of the winter and come spring, by the time the bulbs are popping through the ground, they will begin to delight you with a colorful display.”