In today’s world, “instant gratification” is the norm. In gardening, this can be true in many avenues and can be successful if you plan.
For spring bulbs, that lovely burst of color that never fails to warm our souls after the bite of winter, this is the time to plant! As the earth and nature around us “settle down for a long winter’s nap,” our bulbs are shouting “don’t forget us!”
Choose bulbs that make you happy and that fit the area you are planting, whether in the garden or in a container. Most prefer part-to-full sun, well drained soil and growing room in order to sprout. If making a “mass planting” of bulbs, after planting you might consider a layer of protection (such as chicken wire) on top of your soil before covering with mulch. If not, you might be sporting the plumpest, happiest squirrels in your neighborhood. One hint, unless you are a good shot and plan to stay on guard night and day: do not use blood meal or the like with your bulb planting. Possums, raccoons and armadillos, along with your beloved squirrels, will have a feast at night.
Remember when planting bulbs that these are self-contained systems and will supply your plant with most needs, except water. Many gardeners put a few granules of slow-release fertilizer in the planting hole, mixed with soil at the bottom of the hole, before planting the bulb and covering with soil. Carefully read instructions, but remember, the instructions are written for New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maine as well as Texas. Here, we advise a hole twice the “height” of the bulb. If you plant too deep in Texas, you might see the bulb sprouting in July.
Spring blooming bulbs good for East Texas include jonquils (daffodils), narcissus, tulips, sparaxis (wandflower), allium, iris and others that are recommended for Zone 8. Remember that tulips may not be repeat bloomers unless they get the required cold to “temper” or “set” the bulb. A simple way is to dig up the bulbs three weeks after bloom season, place them in a porous holder, such as a knee high hose. Leave them out four weeks to get dry, then refrigerate until November to January the next year in a refrigerator with no fruit or vegetables.
For containers, plant an uneven number of your favorite bulbs, throw some mondo or monkey grass on top, and your container will be bursting with color come spring!
Happy gardening from Harrison County Master Gardeners.
— Matt Garrett is the county agent for agriculture and natural resources in Harrison County.