This is the time of year many flower bulb companies have their end-of-season sales and pre-season sales. They offer great prices now for summer planted fall-blooming bulbs and fall-planted spring-blooming bulbs.
For example, American Meadows is selling fall-planted bulbs half-off and bags of 50-bulbs for around $20. (877-309-7333 and americanmeadows.com)
Colorblends has perennial tulips for $39.00 per hundred or $330 a thousand. (888-847-8637 and colorblends.com)
To fill a pot or planter, consider Holland Bulb Farms summer sale of 14 tulips for $7.00. (800-689-2852 and hollandbulbfarms.com)
Flowers from corms, tubers, thick roots and actual bulbs are all sold under the category of bulbs.
A few mail order and catalog companies sell bulbs that are shriveled or too immature to bloom the first year, so sometimes a really inexpensive deal turn out to be not as good as spending a little more.
Wherever you decide to shop, summer is the time to think about the flowers you want to greet you this fall as summer winds down and next spring when cold weather breaks. Planning now will also give you ample time to prepare beds for the fall planting.
In zone 7, fall-planted bulbs include tulips, daffodils, belladonna lily, anemone, hyacinth, muscari, scilla, allium, iris, crocus, fritillaria, chiondoxa, lily of the valley,corydalis, crocosmia, dicentra, foxtail lily, trout lily, snowdrops, starflower, naked ladies, star-of-Bethlehem lilies, red star, wandflower, bluebells, and others.
Bulbs that are not hardy in our area are planted in pots and over-wintered in the garage, basement or garden shed. Pots of calla lilies, dahlias, ginger freesia, and others are pulled out of their protected winter homes every spring, repotted into larger containers and set out to provide color on patios and in flower beds.
In their fall-planted bulb selection, Breck's Bulbs has 20-anemones for $10 and a Deer Rejection Collection of 42 bulbs for $34. (513-354-1511 and brecks.com)
Easy to Grow Bulbs will ship their bulbs in February rather than September. Crocosmia bulbs are 5 for $7.00. (866-725-5361 and easytogrowbulbs.com)
BULB PLANTING AND GROWING
Water is going to rot bulbs so if your beds retain water for four or five hours after a heavy rain, choose another spot or build a raised bed.
Planting on a slope helps keep water away from bulbs. Another helpful method is to dig the planting hole and line the bottom with one-fourth-inch of crushed oyster shell from your local farm supply store.
Fertilizer for bulbs is an issue of conflict among the experts. Most agree that fertilizer is not necessary in the first year because the corm or bulb has enough food in it for a first year bloom. Many people treat tulips as annuals so do not bother to fertilize them.
Bulbs that you hope to have return a second year will need food some time during the growing cycle in order to build enough strength to come back. Usually it is applied during the blooming season when the plants are in the most active part of their lifecycle.
If your bulbs send up leaves but do not flower, give them a lower nitrogen fertilizer such as 15-30-15. If they still do not flower, dig and separate them. Replenish the soil with compost and fertilizer and replant.
As for planting depth, the general guideline is plant them twice their size. And, they can be planted on top of each other for continuous bloom. When shopping for tulips, if there is a late blooming variety offered, its flowers will be more likely to survive a late spring freeze.
Plant bulbs close to trees and shrubs.The shrubs' roots absorb excess water. Later in the season, their branches and leaves shade and protect bulbs from summer heat.
Bulbs want loose soil and good drainage so amend the planting area with peat moss. If you are planting a new bed, kill the weeds first. Then, till in peat, compost and a small amount of all-purpose fertilizer like 10-20-10.
Other fall-planted bulb sources and offers –
Bluestone Perennials sells fritillaria bulbs 15 for $6.00. (800-852-5243 and bluestoneperrenials.com).
Brent and Becky's has a collection of bulbs for shade – 50 bulbs for $28. The collection is 10 each of: Arum italicum; Allium triquetrum; Hyacinthoides 'White City'; Geranium tuberosum; Ornithogalum nutans; Crocus tommasinianus. (8770661-2853 and brentandbeckysbulbs.com).
Old House Garden Bulbs ships fall bulbs in October. They offer a collection of heirloom bulbs for $30 and they choose what you will receive. (734-995-1486 and oldhousegardens.com)
Touch of Nature sells many kinds of bulbs but their unique offer is a bushel of bulbs - approximately 400 daffodils, is $99. (800-438-9309 Opt 02 and touchofnature.com)
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