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(Family Features) One of the best ways to add variety to your garden is to choose plants of different sizes and colors, including bulbs. Alliums, daffodils, amaryllis and crocuses are great for taking your garden to a new level. But for many gardeners - even those who consider themselves experts - getting the timing and the method of planting bulbs down can be intimidating. Use these tips to get your garden planned this season.
Before you make the trip to the gardening store, make sure you read up on the species of bulbs you wish to plant. Bulbs that bloom in the spring are typically planted between September and November depending on your geographical location. Bulbs that bloom in the summer should be planted in the spring.
Select bulbs that are both plump and firm. Make sure you carefully inspect each bulb for signs of mold growth.Larger, more mature bulbs will likely produce more blooms, as well as larger blooms.
If you've purchased bulbs, but can't plant them right away, you can store them for the time being in a dry, dark space no cooler than 50°F, or hotter than 60°F. Basements or garages are typically great spaces for storing bulbs.
You can also store bulbs in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator. Be careful not to store them along with produce such as vegetables and fruit, which give off a gas that can actually ruin your bulbs before you get the chance to plant them.
Before you begin planting, make sure you read any information that came along with your bulbs. Different species require different planting depths, exposure to sunlight, water, etc.
When deciding where to plant your bulbs, make sure you choose an area that provides a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight each day.Choose an area that will not collect too much moisture, such as at the bottom of the hill, as this can potentially harm or rot the bulbs.Bulbs tend to do better when planted in groups, so don't be afraid to plant them in the same area, but make sure to place them several inches apart. Generally, small bulbs should be spaced two inches apart, larger bulbs four to six inches apart.One common mistake most gardeners make when planting bulbs is digging a hole that is too shallow for the bulb. Pay attention to packaging directions and if you're unsure of how to proceed, always go for the deepest suggested measurement. To avoid this, make sure you dig a bulb that is three times deeper than the bulb in which you are planting. For small bulbs, plant roughly 6 inches deep.For large bulbs, you could plant them up to a foot.Place the bulb with the root side face-down. If you do not see roots and your bulb is generally in the shape of a heart or pear, place the large, rounded side down, with the pointier side facing the sky.Water the freshly planted area to ensure the bulb roots will grow quickly.
Now that you've successfully planted your bulbs, keep a good eye on them so as to protect them from squirrels and other animals that will gratefully dig up your new plants. Also, make sure your bulbs continue to get nutrients before the winter season begins.
After the freshly planted area has dried out, go ahead and layer your garden with mulch to keep critters from digging up your bulbs.Additionally, you can keep critters from digging up your bulbs by placing chicken wire over the freshly planted area. Use bricks or garden stakes to keep the wiring in place. Bulbs do well with compost, which helps to keep them from freezing in the winter and rich soils. Make sure you keep the area well-drained to stave off rot.