Planting spring bulbous plants

What would be the awakening of spring in our yards without the spring flowering of bulbous plants such as tulips and daffodils!

A hardy bulbous spring plant

A plant is called a hardy bulbous spring plant if planted in the fall, it flowers the following spring. Usually, bulbs offered in garden centers in Quebec are selected according to their ability to grow in most regions of Quebec. As some supermarkets sometimes offer bulbs that cannot withstand the harsh cold of our winters, we must be vigilant when shopping.

A lot of choice

The following bulbous plants usually resist our winters to offer us their spring flowers:

  • The Spring Bulbocodium – Bulbocodium vernum
  • The Noble Corydalis – Corydalis nobilis
  • Crocuses – Crocus
  • The Winter Aconite – Eranthis hyemalis
  • Fawn Lilies – Erythronium
  • Snowdrops – Galanthus
  • Liverleaf – Hepatica
  • Bulbous Perennial Geraniums – Geranium
  • Bulbous irises like the Reticulated Iris – Iris reticulatum
  • Squills – Scilla
  • Chionodox also called Glory-of-the-Snow – Chionodoxa
  • Muscaris – Muscari
  • False Puschkinia or Lebanese Squills – Puschkinia scilloides var. libanotica
  • Daffodils – Narcissus
  • Tulips – Tulipa
  • Hyacinths – Hyacinthus
  • Some fritillaries – Fritillaria
  • Trilliums – Trillium
  • Bellworts – Uvularia
  • Decorative garlic – Allium

The purchase of bulbs

In September and October, garden centers’ display stands are full of bulbs ready to be planted in our flowerbeds. They can also be bought by mail. By mail, however, it is difficult to see the size of the bulb and its condition. Let’s not forget that the price is set in relation to the size of the bulb. That’s why it’s best to examine them before buying them.

Large calibers offer better flowering. The bulbs should be of good quality, being healthy and firm. For this purpose, bulbs that are too soft or moldy must be removed. These could even infect the soil.

Plants like daffodils multiply naturally in a flowerbed while others do not always come back faithfully, such as fritillaries. Some break down after the first year like many modern tulip cultivars. To prolong their ability to flower, they must be dug up after haying their foliage, divided and replanted each year.

Finally, some naturalise very well in the lawn or in an undergrowth such as crocuses, squills or puschkinias.

The spread of flowering

You have to play on the flowering dates to ensure a long flowering period, from the snowdrop to the giant garlic. It is also wise to buy early, mid-season and late bulbs. The flowering period can be spread from when the snow melts until the end of June, if temperatures are cool. A nice revenge for the cold regions!

The planting period

Bulbs of bulbous, spring-flowering plants should be planted in the fall. It is best to plant them as soon as they arrive on the shelves, because their quality can be altered by improper storage, both at home and in the garden center. If you have to wait to plant them, keep them in a cool, dry place with temperatures approaching 10º C.

If the temperature is above seasonal normal at the time of purchase, wait until the mercury returns to seasonal averages. The best period is often in the second half of September.

Of course, it is possible to plant them as long as the soil isn’t frozen in depth. It should be kept in mind, however, that the later the planting, the likelier the bulbous plant will appear late in the spring.

Exposure and temperature

Most bulbous plants are grown under the full sun, although sometimes they bend their heads during the hot spring. Since their rate of photosynthesis is very high, they acclimate very poorly to shade. Finally, several bulbous plants adapted during their evolution to the combination of cold temperature – intense light. Snowdrops, Glories-of-the-Snow and the Muscari accept light to medium shady situations.

The planting soil

To successfully grow bulbous spring plants, consider the nature of the soil. Bulbous plants generally require light soil, but can tolerate many types of soil. It must be well drained, however, because the bulbs degrade and rot in extremely wet soil. One can still grow bulbous plants in inappropriate soil by planting the planting soil for lightening or raising the bed.

The planting hole

The depth of the planting hole should be about three times the height of the bulb, calculated from the tip of the bulb. As it is not the case for all the bulbous plants, it is better to follow the indications on the packaging.

In principle, the bigger the bulb, the deeper the hole will be. It is better that the hole be deeper than not deep enough.

If the soil is argilous, it is best not to plant too deeply. Avoid planting in soggy soil.

The planting

We can dig our planting holes with a shovel, a trowel or a hand planter specifically designed for planting bulbs. The planting soil must be well loosened.

The upper part of the bulb usually corresponds to a point. This pointed tip should usually be placed upward. Rising roots often appear at the end of the lower part. These are deposited on the earth.

Ground bone fertilizer can be spread at the bottom of the planting hole, if our soil has not been improved with organic fertilizers. We fill our planting hole with light earth.

Spring bulbous plants in landscapes

It is better to plant bulbous plants in a homogeneous group to obtain a mass effect at flowering time. A dozen bulbs per species or cultivar is enough. Some gardeners opt instead for an island of 12 to 20 bulbs.

Dwarf bulbous plants such as crocuses and squills are suitable for borders. Some gardeners naturalize small bulbs in the lawn or undergrowth by broadcasting them.

We can also create very successful compositions by associating our bulbous plants with primroses, violets or forget-me-nots.