Late September through November is a great time to plant spring blooming bulbs in the garden.
Add drifts of early spring color to your gardens by naturalizing spring blooming bulbs. Many spring bulbs, such as Narcissus, Crocus, Leucojum, and Muscari, are especially well suited for naturalizing. They give the garden a "natural" look when planted en masse under trees and shrubs or even in the grass. They are especially beautiful when planted in great drifts in a woodland setting! Steep slopes, rock walls, and open meadows become a riot of early spring color with mass plantings of beautiful bulbs.
And remember - Narcissus are deer and vole resistant and they make great cut flowers! Watch Mark's video tip on cutting narcissus and see a video on the huge variety of different narcissus.
Use bulbs as a cluster in containers by the front door, peeking up from the rock garden, and as a border in front of your foundation shrubs. Watch a video tip on some other types of unusual spring blooming bulbs.
For a formal look to your bulb plantings, use the more formal tulips and hyacinths in blocks of one or two colors. Keep in mind that, although tulips give you a great show of color, they are not long lived and generally need to be replaced each year. Be sure to select the largest bulb size possible so you get the biggest and most colorful blooms that first year. The Viettes are working on selecting and evaluating naturalizing tulips (ones that will come back year after year). We are hoping that these will be available in future years.
For a stunning informal spring landscape, combine spring bulbs with early blooming perennials such as creeping phlox (Phlox subulata), bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis), Pulmonaria, Epimedium, and Polemonium. For added height back these up with beautiful spring blooming shrubs like Pieris, Forsythia, flowering quince, or Viburnum carlesii.
Inter-plant your bulbs with daylilies, hosta, ornamental grasses, or other taller perennials which will hide the bulb foliage once they are finished blooming. Remember to place your taller bulbs in the middle portion of your flower bed.
Good drainage is essential for bulbs. Work and amend the bulb bed by adding organic matter such as peat moss, compost or aged pink bark, and add Bulb-tone fertilizer.
Watch Mark's video tip on planting bulbs.
The basic rule-of-thumb for determining the proper planting depth and spacing is: