Fall is here and its nearing winter. It is also a good time to plan for spring. One of the first signs of spring is the flowers that develop and bloom from bulbs.

Common spring flowering bulbs are daffodils, narcissus, tulips, lilies, crocuses, hyacinths and irises. Most are planted in the fall and bloom the following spring, well before most perennials and annuals. Spring flowering bulbs are planted from September through November, with October being the peak time.If you buy bulbs to plant, always buy them from a reputable dealer. Avoid bulbs that are soft, look molded or discolored.Select large, firm bulbs without blemishes or rotten spots, and store them in a cold, dry place until planting time.In case you are not able to buy and plant the bulbs right away, store them at around 60-65 degrees F before planting. Temperatures above 70 degrees F may damage the flower bulbs. Bulbs are generally graded and sold according to size. Large bulbs produce larger and/or multiple flowers. The largest bulbs are not necessary for good landscape effect. In most cases, medium grades are satisfactory.

Most spring flowering bulbs grow best in light shade to full sun. Try to select a site that provides at least six to 10 hours of direct light per day.Majority of the spring-flowering bulbs bloom and produce foliage well before most deciduous trees leaf out, they get plenty of sun under the canopy of such trees, which offer dense shade later in the season.

Good drainage is essential. A pH of 6.0 to 6.8 is best for most bulbs, however, bulbs often thrive outside this range. In the absence of a soil test, add two pounds of 5-10-10, 10-10-10, or 8-8-8 fertilizer per 100 square feet of bed area. Organic fertilizers such as bone meal are often recommended for bulbs, but are probably no better than inorganic sources used at the proper rates.

Incorporate lime, fertilizer and any soil amendments thoroughly and deeply, at least 12 inches. Avoid working the soil when it is wet. If you can crumble the soil between your fingers, it is dry enough for digging and planting.

Planting depth and spacing are extremely important.. Planting depth should be two to three times the greatest diameter for bulbs two inches or more in diameter, and three to four times the greatest diameter for smaller bulbs.

Spacing could vary from one inch to two inches, to as much as several feet. When spacing bulbs, consider not only how much space each plant
needs, but also how frequently it will be dug and divided.

You should avoid spotty or line-out arrangements. You may also try first scattering bulbs on top of the soil to achieve a naturalistic look, then planting them. Plant the bulbs upright and press the soil firmly around them.Lastly, water the beds thoroughly to help settle the soil.

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