Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Plant Fall Bulbs NOW - for Spring color!

Daffodils… plant now, enjoy later!

Cool nights in early September summon our attention, hinting that autumn is near.  The onset of autumn presents another gardening “to do” list: continue harvesting veggies, divide and cut back perennials, plant bulbs for spring bloom.

Daffodils, along with tulips and grape hyacinths, contribute to the early springtime kaleidoscope of colors present in our flower beds… a color explosion we eagerly anticipate as winter begins to release its grip on our gardens.  The planning and planting efforts we put forth in autumn will yield colorful rewards next spring… consider adding a variety of daffodils to your current design layout.  Daffodils (genus Narcissus) are available in creamy whites, saffron yellows, and two-tone varieties; some are miniatures, while others grow to a height of twelve inches or more.

If your garden is a luncheon buffet for deer and rabbits, daffodils are a great alternative to tulips (a.k.a. “deer candy”). Daffodils contain a natural substance which is a deterrent to deer and rabbits, so they should not bother the blooms.

Daffodil bulbs will multiply underground, so every few years, you will have an abundance of new bulbs begging to be planted in a new location in your garden, or shared with a friend.  Daffodils can thrive in fairly neutral pH soil (6.0 – 7.0) and aren’t particular about soil type.  However, if you have a heavy clay-based soil in your garden, you may wish to add organic matter (NOT sand) to provide a safe haven for your bulbs.   Ideal planting depth is 7” – 8” for daffodils and I like to plant in clusters of five to nine bulbs.  Cover with an inch of loose soil containing organic matter and a sprinkling of granular bulb food.  Fill in remaining soil and top with cedar mulch shavings (2” – 3” layer is desirable); finally, water.

With the arrival of spring, your newly planted daffodil bulbs will emerge as slender green leaves, followed by a bounty of blooms for your enjoyment!

M. Lynn Schmid,  Certified Master Gardener
A.A.S. Landscape/Horticulture/Arboriculture