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

Chicago Flower and Garden Show Advertisement

popular

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
Newsletter
Bales of Fun

For vegetable gardeners, straw bale gardening may be the best innovation since sliced bread.


Article Thumbnail
Columns
Gardener’s Guilt

I’m feeling guilty. Perhaps that’s because my column was due last week and I’ve now written, let’s see, 18 words. But I’m ...


Article Thumbnail
Blog
A Plant for Neatniks

You know who you are. You’re the gardeners who keep your lawn perfectly edged and weed-free, the ones who maintain an ...


Article Thumbnail
Blog
White for Fall

They used to say you’re not supposed to wear white shoes after the first of September but in the garden, white is the great ...


questions

Will a trumpet vine growing on a tree harm it?

I have a large variegated sedum with pink flowers that I have had for years. I noticed that it has started to send up some all-green shoots. Why is it doing this and how can I keep my plant variegated?

My Siberian iris ‘Gracilis’ plants have only one bloom per clump. I have five 3 to 5 year-old clumps that are 8 to 10 inches wide. They do not appear to be crowded. All are planted in a moist area. Why is there only one bloom per clump?

ChicagolandGardening Advertisement