Tips for planting bulbs

Thursday, October 29, 2009

-- Spring bulbs do best in free-draining soil and a sunny location. You can improve the soil with grit and compost. Few bulbs will last long in heavy, wet soil, though the blue-flowering camassia is native to damp meadows. Some bulbs thrive in the dappled shade of deciduous trees -- anemones, snowdrops, trilliums, glory-of-the-snow and squill, for example -- but bulbs in deep shade will peter out.

-- Bulbs should be set roughly 2 1/2 times their width, as shallow as two inches deep for snowdrops, as deep as seven inches for the largest daffodil bulbs.

-- The best tool is a long-handled bulb planter, driven into the soil by the leg, more powerful than the arm. Large quantities of small bulbs such as glory-of-the-snow, snowdrops and scilla can be planted by stabbing the ground with a heavy-duty trowel and prying a hole for the bulb.

-- In deer territory, plant daffodils and alliums.

-- Take care not to bruise or nick bulbs when planting, to avoid rot.

-- A.H.

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