As a red dirt gardener, it is time for fall bulb planting. This article, Fall Bulb Planting 101 will help you with all the basics needed for a successful crop of flowers in the early spring.
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION!
The first thing you will want to arm yourself with is the location where you will plant the bulbs. Ask yourself these questions: (information provided with the bulbs will provide tips on location)
· Will the Bulb receive the recommended amount of light?
· Proper watering is essential, will it be available or is the location going to be a pain to water?
· What will I have to do prepare the soil?
· Is this a flower that will grow in Oklahoma, in ZONE 7A?
· Are the bulbs I am planting healthy?
Be sure to buy your bulbs from a reliable source whether it is a local store, mail order or on the web. Selection based upon a lesser price may not yield the best flowers.
Red Dirt Gardening’s “How To Select Bulbs”
The bulb itself, is where all the nutrients are stored for the plant. It is therefore, beneficial to select as healthy of bulbs as possible to maximize flower production. Keep in mind that larger bulbs may also produce larger flowers within the same variety.
Handling each bulb before purchasing will tell you a lot about the health of the bulb.
DO NOT buy bulbs that:
· Feel dry or light weight compared to the other bulbs
· Have soft spots or areas with a white powdery substance
· Do not have a firm basal plate (where the roots come out)
· Have deep cuts or blemishes
It is okay that the bulbs have loose skin like an onion and have small nicks.
Red Dirt Gardening ON STORING BULBS Bulbs like cool dark dry places. If your bulbs are in plastic get them into paper or lay them out on a tray until planting time. I store mine in the garage and have at times put them in the refrigerator several weeks before planting. Old rumors indicate that the cold temp will force the bulbs to bloom more. I cannot really tell if they do or not. Remember:
· Do not put bulbs in plastic bags to store them …they will have a better chance of rotting
· No closed bags…bulbs need to breath
· Place bulbs in a dark/cool place like the garage
Red Dirt Gardening’s BED PREPARATION
· Most bulbs prefer loose, porous soil because they need to have good drainage. If your soil does not drain well, improve it by adding nutrients and compost.
· Almost any soil can benefit from organic materials, especially sandy and heavy clay soils like we have.
· Mix bone meal into the soil at the bottom of each planting hole.
When you buy your bulbs, look for information about specific planting depths and proper spacing for that particular variety.
· Those of us in the OKC metro are in ZONE 7A, which means that the optimum time to plant most of our bulbs will be around Thanksgiving.
· Generally bulbs are planted at a depth three times their diameter. It’s easier if you dig up a larger area at the proper depth, set them inside the hole, and then cover them.
· Several bulbs planted into one hole will give you a more dramatic effect than single bulbs per hole.
· Bulbs with different blooming times can also be put into the same hole for continuous blooming.
“The Original” Red Dirt Gardener