Gardeners are nothing, if not hopeful. And one of our signs of hope is the fall planting of spring-blooming bulbs: Tulips, crocus, daffodils, hyacinths and alliums to name a few.
For the showiest display, plant the largest bulbs you can find. The best selection can be found in the bulk bulb boxes at garden centers and at online retailers. I’ve always had good luck ordering from colorblends.com, brentandbeckysbulbs.com, oldhousegardens.com, longfield-gardens.com, mzbulb.com and johnscheepers.com. If you haven’t ordered or purchased bulbs yet, do so soon while there’s still a good selection.
Smaller bulbs, such as most of those sold in packages, are good for naturalizing. Or, use them as “hamburger helper,” mixed in with the larger bulbs to extend the planting.
If you live where there’s deer pressure, remember that tulips are a favorite snack. Squirrels like tulips, too. Squirrels also like to dig up crocus and other smaller bulbs, so plant some for yourself and some for the critters. Daffodils are usually not bothered by deer or rodents. They also tend to be very reliable bloomers in the Indiana garden.
Even though you buy bulbs now, don’t be too quick to plant them. Late October and into November are better times, perhaps finishing up around Thanksgiving. You want the bulbs planted at least four weeks before the ground freezes.
In general, plant the bulbs about three times deeper than they are tall. If the bulb is 2 inches tall, plant it at least 6 inches deep. It’s better to plant too deep than too shallow. Plant bulbs in clumps or clusters rather than single file. There’s no need to use bulb fertilizer or bone meal because the bulbs are already packed with next year’s blossoms.
Be sure to water the newly planted bulbs. If you are worried about the bulbs being dug up by squirrels, place chicken wire over the planting area and secure it with lawn staples. Throw a little mulch or chopped leaves over the chicken wire.
There’s almost always room for a few more bulbs in the landscape. So plant some, and you’ll have something to look forward to next spring.