Landscape Logic: End-of-season projects for garden
Vail, CO Colorado
Now is a great time to do one last gardening project: plant bulbs that will bloom next spring!
We’re now in the best “zone” for planting bulbs – when nighttime lows are in the 40- to 50-degree range and when the soil temperature at planting depth hits 55 degrees. You can test the soil with a soil probe – or even a meat thermometer if you can push it 3 to 6 inches deep into the soil.
A variety of tools can make the job easier, but they are not necessarily a requirement. A dibble, a bulb planter or just a small shovel can all be used.
Select flower varieties and colors that you like to see in your yard. Since some bulb varieties offer a better cost value than others, shop the varieties/prices to create combos that give the best bang for the buck. Shopping sooner rather than later provides the best selection of both quality and variety.
As a general rule, the planting depth for bulbs is three times the height of the bulb, so small bulbs will be planted shallower than large bulbs.
Plant with the pointed end of the bulb up. If the bulb is too round to tell the top from the bottom, place the bulb sideways in the soil. The bulb will automatically send shoots up and roots down.
Add a fertilizer formulated for bulbs at the time of planting.
Avoid planting bulbs all in a row like little soldiers. Instead, plant groups of 10 to 12 bulbs together with a few inches between each bulb. Leave more space between larger bulbs.
Plant several pockets of bulbs in the most visible areas of your beds. Next spring, an emerging group of tulips or daffodils will create a bright pop of color nestled among still-dormant perennials.
How to protect bulbs from wildlife damage:
Voles are a common landscape pest and they are active foragers during the winter. Applying 2 inches or more of pea gravel over the bulb bed is a good deterrent. The sharp edges of the gravel hurt the pads of their feet, which keeps them from digging.
To discourage elk and deer, treat the bulbs before planting with a hot-pepper treatment. Garden centers have pre-mixed hot-pepper sprays with wax just for this purpose.
In the spring when rabbits are likely to chew on emerging and tender shoots, placing a goose decoy in the yard can be an effective deterrent. Other preventives include applying blood meal or a predator urine spray around the plants.
You won’t get immediate gratification for your efforts this week, but when the tulips and daffodils pop up next April, you’ll be glad you made the effort!
Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-409-8945.