How to care for and plant flower bulbs

Looking to line your home with a vivid garden of your own? Your first step is to learn how to plant and care for flower bulbs of all kinds.

How to care for and plant flower bulbs

Tulips and daffodils are some of the first messengers of spring, whereas other bulb types, like dahlias, gladioli, or autumn crocuses, bloom into late fall. These plants don't require a lot of care and can even be grown in pots on the balcony or deck. The saying "the bigger, the better" really applies to flowering bulbs, because the biggest bulbs are generally healthier and bloom better.

Make the right selection

  • Buy bulbs with an undamaged outer skin and a firm core. If they are sprouting or exhibit decay, toss them out.
  • Store bulbs that you can't plant immediately after purchasing in a cool, dark, and airy place. Store rare and valuable varieties in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, and leave undisturbed until they are ready to be planted.
  • Plant lilies, lilies-of-the-valley, or glories-of-the-snow in shady areas; wood anemones and wild daffodils flourish in full shade.

Proper planting tips

  • Bulb plants grow best in loose, porous soil. If the soil is on the heavy side, fill the trench with a layer of sand about one to 2.5 centimetres (1/2 to one inch) deep. This layer keeps the bulbs from rotting during the wet and cold seasons of the year.
  • Remember that the depth for planting should always be at least twice the diameter of the bulb.
  • When in doubt, follow the instructions on the package of lily bulbs, as there are many considerations concerning how deep lilies should be planted.
  • Plant bulbs at different depths to get a nice, thick blooming. This produces better results, especially in restricted spaces such as a clay pot.
  • Lightly water daffodils and checkered lilies after planting. Their roots will grow quicker in moist soil.
  • Plant bulbs in plastic baskets, nets, or wire mesh if you plan to take them out later. They'll be easier to remove and will also be protected from rodents.
  • Plant summer bloomers such as dahlias, gladiolus, or crocosmia (falling stars) in well-loosened and aerated soil.
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