Have you ever walked past a magnificent garden in the early springtime and thought, “Wow, those flowers are beautiful! What are they?” Chances are they’re spring flowering bulbs, which brighten the landscape when many other shrubs, trees and perennials are still dormant. Bulbs range from the common tulips, daffodils, and crocus to the specialty alliums, trout lily, and snowdrops. All contribute something magical to the landscape.
Part of our role as landscape design professionals is to remind our clients in the fall to think about the future and plant bulbs now for a show stopping display in the spring. It is important to plant before the ground freezes so the bulbs can grow some roots and absorb some moisture. Our sweet spot on Long Island for planting bulbs is in November. Bulbs need to go through a phase of cool temperatures like winter before they can bloom.
Planting depth varies for each type of bulb. Tulips and Daffodils need to be planted deeper than crocus. When designing, think about the bloom time of each type of bulb and the height. Mixing several types of daffodils that bloom in early, middle and late spring will give you a long display of flowers. When working with different heights, plant the lower growing bulbs in front if they flower at the same time. We like to plant pansies among flowering bulbs in the spring so when the bulbs are done flowering we still have some color while waiting to plant summer flowers. Also, follow the guide nature gives us. Nothing grows in a straight line naturally. Make sure to plant bulbs in groupings whether it is a small or large area you’re covering for the best display. Massing is important with bulbs. 50 flowers scattered throughout a bed can get lost but 50 flowers gathered together make you stop, look, and admire.
Fertilization is important for any plant. As people, we make sure to ingest nutrients we need to stay healthy. The same idea applies to our plants. They use the nutrients found in the soil but those nutrients need to be replenished. We work either organic compost or bone meal into the soil around new plantings.
One more thing we like to tell our clients is that bulbs are a great bang for your buck. Some varieties of bulbs naturalize and spread themselves out over time. It is hard to wait for spring when annuals and perennials can give you instant landscape gratification, but we promise it is worth it. Spring flowering bulbs also make great cut flowers, allowing you to bring a bit of spring into the house with you. Drop us a line and talk to us about flowers and ways to add beauty to your garden.
Call us at (631) 271-6460 or email us if you have any questions.
Written by Ashley Palko Haugsjaa