Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Planning for Color with Spring-Flowering Bulbs

Neighborhoods across Cobb County are awash in the reds and yellows of autumn leaves, and  the cool-season blooms of asters, mums, pansies, snapdragons, and more are keeping our landscapes lively, but we all know that winter will be upon us soon, and much of the color will fade. Forward-thinking gardeners, however, prepare for the early return of blooms with spring bulbs.

It isn't quite time to start planting most spring-flowering bulbs in Cobb County -- November is our best month -- but it isn't too soon to start selecting the bulbs and planning where to place them.

For gardeners who may be new to our area, the UGA Extension publication "Flowering bulbs for Georgia gardens," by Paul Thomas, Gary Wade, and Bodie Pennisi, describes the many flowering bulbs that can be grown successfully in our area. In addition to the familiar and hardy daffodils and crocus, gardeners here can select Spanish bluebells, glory-of-the-snow (which is glorious even without snow), hyacinth, star flower, rain lilies, and more.

The 2012 Georgia FACES article "Plant flowering bulbs now for color later," by UGA's William Tyson, emphasizes the importance of selecting high-quality bulbs that are large for their type and that are unblemished.

For planting, Tyson explains, "Most prefer a moist, well-drained, medium, sandy loam that does not remain wet and sticky after heavy rain or dry out too quickly. Good drainage is essential."

For spacing and depth, Tyson includes these details:

"A general rule of thumb for planting depth (from the top of the bulb to the soil surface) is two to three times the greatest diameter for bulbs 2 inches or more in diameter, and three to four times the greatest diameter for smaller bulbs.

Spacing will vary from 1 or 2 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 up and divided."

For fuller information, read the complete text at the linked titles above.