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Nearing the end of planting season

 

Crocus is a great plant to naturalize in the lawn. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

Crocus is a great plant to naturalize in the lawn. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

We’re closing in on the end of the planting season for spring-blooming bulbs.

As I write this, there are eight bags of bulbs that need to be planted, including 100 blue crocus; about 30 perennials to get heeled in and the raised bed built for my blueberries, but I digress.

Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, snowdrops, crocus and others should already be snug underground or will be in the next couple of weeks. The bulbs need about six weeks to develop roots before the ground freezes.

Probably the most important follow up to planting the bulbs is watering them well. Remember the bulbs are 4-6 inches or more deep. If you’re like me, and planting the bulbs late, apply a layer of shredded mulch or chopped leaves over the planting area to slow the soil-freezing process and help retain moisture.

One trend is naturalizing the lawn with what are called minor or special spring bulbs. This is what’s planned for the 100 blue Crocus. As much as I like yellow crocuses, when planted in the lawn, they look more like dandelions. I like blue the best, and have also naturalized with squill (Scilla siberica) and glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa luciliae).

There are several ways to plant these special bulbs in the lawn.

  • Lay out the bulbs in the pattern you want, or toss them and plant them where they land.
  • Dig or drill with an auger individual holes about 4 inches deep. Drop in the bulb and fill the hole with soil and tamp down.
  • Plunge a garden knife, trowel or tool called a rockery about 4-inches deep into the lawn and push it forward, but leave it in the soil. Drop in a bulb behind the tool. Pull out the tool and tamp down the soil.
  • Use a shovel to dig up a section of the lawn about 3-4 inches deep. Place the bulbs on the bare soil and replace the section of turf. Gently tamp it down.

These tiny bulbs bloom early enough that their foliage ripens before we have to mow the lawn. When deciding where to plant the bulbs, place them fairly close together for a showier display. One friend, Carol Michel at maydreamsgardens.com on Indianapolis’ south side, has planted thousands of these minor bulbs in her lawn over the last few years. So, phase in the plantings rather than feeling compelled to do it all at once. However, you’ll love the result so much that you might want to plant by the thousands, too.

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