Spring Bling

The best bulbs for a beautiful bloom

Bulbs can be a gardener’s best friend. Low maintenance and hardy, they will bring beautiful blooms year after year. With so many varieties that are well adapted to dry summers, your garden will be alive with vibrant colors from spring to fall.

Know your bulb

It’s important to know what you’re planting and when you should plant it. “Tender bulbs” like gladiolus, lilies, caladiums, and dahlia are not tolerant of extremely cold temperatures and prefer to be planted once the weather turns warm. Plant after the last frost of the year for a colorful summer yard. Lilies and agapanthus, however, are happy to be planted in February. Expert tip: Tulips, irises, and daffodils are considered “hardy bulbs” and need a cold snap before they’ll send up flowers. If you want to plant them now, try to trick your bulbs by storing them in the fridge for eight to ten weeks to recreate winter-like conditions and be sure to get them in the ground before the weather warms up.

Best bulb care

Bulb care is generally the same. Bulbs should be planted where they will receive plenty of sunlight and have good drainage so they don’t rot. When in doubt, plant the bulb two to three times deeper than its height. Expert tip: Always be sure bulbs are stored in a cool, dry to place prevent them from molding. Moldy bulbs won’t bloom and the mold can spread underground to kill healthy bulbs nearby. Temperatures in SJ County typically don’t get low enough to need to dig tender bulbs up during the winter; simply cover bulbs with a layer of mulch for added protection. 

Step by step

Step 1: Pick the perfect place for your bulbs. If you don’t have an area with appropriate drainage, plant bulbs in raised flower beds.

Step 2: Prepare the soil by loosening the dirt and adding bulb fertilizer.

Step 3: Place the bulbs at the appropriate depth with the root-side down and pointed side up. Expert tip: If you can’t tell which way the bulb is oriented, plant it sideways and it will find its way above ground as it blooms.

Step 4: Cover with soil and mulch. Water well to allow the bulb to settle.

February Garden Tasks

  • Watch the forecast and be ready to protect tender plants from cold snaps.
  • Plant cold season vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and onions.
  • Plant cold hardy annuals like pansies.
  • Plant bare root roses and fruit trees.
  • Prune spring-flowering bushes: repeat blooming roses, crape myrtles, and butterfly bushes.

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