Vail gardening: September is the time for bulb planting |

Vail gardening: September is the time for bulb planting

Peter Alexander
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado
There are as many ways to plan a bulb garden as there are varieties of bulbs.

September is a great time to plant bulbs that will bloom in the spring, and part of this planting is planning what you want in your bulb garden. Mapping out your garden is a creative outlet that will result in a rewarding outcome once the snow melts.

According to James R. Feucht and James Klett, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension specialists, “Bulbs purchased and planted in September will yield healthier blossoms in the spring. When buying bulbs, look for the largest size within the type considered.”

There is a correlation between the size of the bulb within a specific variety and the size of the bloom provided by the bulb.

There are as many ways to plan a bulb garden as there are varieties of bulbs. You can set aside a dedicated area and plant multiple varieties, or you can find little spots within your existing landscape to plant your bulbs.

Some suggestions from Feucht and Klett: “Crocus create a natural appearance around trees or in a rock garden. Species tulips bloom early; they can be planted in your shrubs. You can also plant bulbs within a ground cover such as creeping juniper, but you may want to avoid most daffodils, because their foliage lasts so long through the season. You can cut the foliage of tulips, hyacinths, and crocus sooner after the blooms have died down.”

Once you have planned where to plant your bulbs, you should prep the soil. Bulbs are planted deeper than seeds and they root below 4 inches, and fertilizer must be added at the same depth as the roots.

To prepare an area for bulbs, take out the soil to the depth you will be planting the bulbs, add soil amendments and fertilizer at this depth, and then amend the soil again to a depth of 3 or 4 inches being careful not to compact the soil. Place the bulbs where you want them, pointed side up, and refill the area with the soil you excavated. Add water to help settle the soil around the bulbs you just placed. Water the planted area well and in a few weeks the bulbs will begin to root.

According to S.E. Newman, Colorado State University Extension greenhouse crops specialist, professor of floriculture, horticulture, and landscape architecture, “The flower bud and the food necessary to produce the flower are present inside a bulb when it is planted. Fertilizer is applied to make larger bulbs the following year.”

If you are planting many different kinds of bulbs within one large bed, you might want to make a map of the types of bulbs you installed so you can refer to it in the spring when the flowers come. These blooms will make excellent cuttings for your home.

If you live in an area where deer are present, you want to consider planting bulbs resistant to deer. This will save you the frustration of having your spring flowers eaten when the blooms arrive. One website to visit that lists deer resistant bulbs is Gardening at

This article was written by Peter Alexander of Neils Lunceford Landscape Design/Build ( with help from the Colorado State University Extension website on planting bulbs. Peter can be reached at 970-468-0340, or at

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