Osmocote Advertisement

Time to Plant Those Bulbs


There’s a nip in the air — I wouldn’t yet call it a chill — that prompted me to rummage through the box on the back porch yesterday and bring out the bags of bulbs I will be planting. Some of them maybe even today.

Since I never know how many of my tulips will return, I always make a point of planting some more each fall. This happens to be real work since it has me crawling around roses and hydrangeas, getting scratched and poked in the process. If I only had a brand new patch of ground to plant, life would be easy. Brent Heath, co-owner of Brent and Becky’ Bulbs, a mail order company in Gloucester, Virginia, once gave a talk at the Chicago Botanic Garden where he astounded us all with the statement that he could plant … did he say 500? ... bulbs in an hour. Whatever it was, it was a staggering number. He also showed us how he digs with the trowel held “backward” and digs toward himself instead of away. It goes faster that way, he insisted.

Photos: Ron Capek

I always add some crocuses each year since, like diamonds, you can never have too many, and what else can carpet the ground as early as the end of March? There’s the charming yellow winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis), but it’s a fickle little bulb that will reward you if it likes your soil. Plant some, to be sure, but don’t expect them to be as reliable as crocuses. Grape hyacinths (Muscari), windflower (Anemone blanda), Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) and glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa) don’t pop up quite as early as crocus and aconite, but they are all reliable performers that will cheer your spirits no end. Learn more about minor bulbs here.

To learn more about bulbs, check out the Fall Bulb Primer, written for our September/October issue by Liz Holmberg, co-owner of Lizzie’s Garden in Naperville. And to read about some more unusual bulbs, read Beth Botts’ story in our March/April issue, Weird and Wonderful Bulbs There’s a photo of the fabulous yellow crown imperial (Fritillaria imperialis) on the cover.

categories

Porter County Advertisement

popular

Article Thumbnail
Blog
Good Winter Reads

In our neck of the woods, there’s been little snow to speak of, but the temperatures finally dropped into the teens. And ...


Article Thumbnail
Blog
A Tough Plant for Tough Times

This is the year of the hellebore, at least in my garden. I have about a dozen now, with several of the lime-green ones ...


Article Thumbnail
Blog
What a Difference a Year Makes

This time last year we were heading into an awful, hot, drought-ridden summer — one that trounced the tomato plants, sent ...


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Hometown Honeys

You may have been told that bees are beneficial and that they pollinate a lot of agricultural crops. Most of the time when …


Article Thumbnail
Blog
Walk this Way

Need a little inspiration or just a break from weeding? Garden walks abound this time of year, and there’s plenty to see.


questions

I have two strawberry plants in a hanging basket in my yard. I have not had any fruit from them although the vines hang down. I give them plant food once a month and water daily. What am I doing wrong?

Miniature gardening is the rage. What enchanting miniature plants work well in a shaded area?

I dislike staking perennials. Is there anything I can do to avoid it?

ChicagolandGardening Advertisement