Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens

Power Planting

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Spring flowering bulbs give any garden a little extra sparkle.  And after a long winter, we could all use some extra sparkle!  I told a friend a few weeks ago to plant some cheery yellow daffodils in her garden  — about 100 would make quite the show – and she looked at me as if I had asked her to fly to the moon.  “100 bulbs??  I could never plant that many!”

That is often the response I get from people when I suggest planting (what seem to be) larger quantities of bulbs.  But once you get started, planting a few hundred bulbs takes no time at all.  The task is far less daunting as it sounds.

For example, this morning I planted 50 Narcissus ‘Misty Glen’ (daffodil), 200 Muscari botyroides  ‘Album’ (grape hyacinth) and 200 Crocus vernus ‘Jean D’Arc’ (crocus) in our Rose Garden.  Two hours tops from start to finish.  And I would have finished in about half the time if I hadn’t stopped to pull weeds along the way and watered the area before starting.

If you would like to read more about these three bulbs, check out this earlier blog posting about the bulbs I ordered for the Arboretum: https://cedarvalleyarboretum.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/.

To start, I watered the flowerbeds I wanted plant in.  This isn’t always necessary – the irrigation has been off in the Rose Garden for several weeks, so the soil was very dry and difficult to dig into.  Watering beforehand looses up the soil for easier planting (your arms won’t be sore after!)

    

Once the beds were ready, I spread  out my three different bulbs on top of the mulch.  I like to lay out my bulbs before starting to guarantee even coverage.  For the Rose Garden, I chose a very informal planting design – I wanted the bulbs to be intermixed with the perennials and rose bushes.

    

For quicker planting, I like to grip my trowel like I would a can of soda.  With my right hand, I open a slit in the soil and with my left hand, I put the bulb in the open pocket I have created.  After the bulb is in, I pull out my trowel and use the end of my trowel to pat down the soil.  This planting technique is far quicker than digging each separate hole by making a mound of soil by the hole (like how you would plant a gallon-sized perennial). 

(from left to right: daffodil, crocus and grape hyacinth)

The size of your bulb usually dictates how deep to plant.  Many bulb packages come with planting directions, but a good rule of thumb is that your hole depth should be three times the width of your bulb.  So in my case, the daffodil bulbs would be planted much deeper than the crocus and grape hyacinth. 

What happens if you plant your bulbs a bit too deep?  Not a big problem.  It will likely just take a few extra days for your bulbs to pop up in the spring – and your bulbs will have a bit extra protection if we have an early thaw and then freezes again.

Want to learn a bit more about daffodils?  I encourage you to read a great article written by Pam in our e-newsletter October edition.  You can read online at http://www.cedarvalleyarboretum.org/pdfs/The%20View%20Volume%203%20Issue%2010.pdf.  You can also sign up online to receive our e-newsletter, The View, at http://www.cedarvalleyarboretum.org/newsletter.asp.

See you in the gardens.

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Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

November 3, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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