fbpx

Posts

Beautiful Tulip Bulbs

Beautiful Tulip Bulbs

As the weather chills and the arrival of winter comes to mind, I have visions of tulips and daffodils dancing in my head…shouldn’t it be sugar-plums. A trick to remind yourself when to plant anything is to connect it to a holiday. In this instance, Halloween is that holiday. When you think of Halloween don’t just think of ghosts and goblins, but of the beautiful kaleidoscope of color that the new season will bring as the winter fades.

Buying

Many state that September or October are the months that bulbs must be planted, however, I like to hold off until Early to Mid-November as long as mother nature and the weather agree meaning no hard frosts or snow. The reason being is because the sales begin to show up and increase during November. Today, I was able to purchase almost 100 bulbs for less than $40 because they were 60% off. However, if there is a flower that I must have because it is hard to find such as Fritillaria meleagris – then I snatch them right up. Buying bulbs in large bulk bags where there is 15 to 20 bulbs per bag is a much better bargain and use of my hard earned dollar.

All of that being said, it is still important to make sure the bulbs are quality. They should be hard – not mushy, soft or have mold growing on them. This can be the case if storing bulbs and reusing them from last spring. Discard any bulbs that have these characteristics.

While shopping, pay close attention to the bloom time, you will want to make sure your mixes either bloom at the same time or bloom throughout the spring depending on the design of your garden.

Planting

Bulbs are often planted in ground, but I love them best in containers. Since my soil is more on the clay side and I don’t have the time or patience to amend it; bulbs will rot before they bloom. I prefer planting bulbs in containers. This way, I can ensure that I will have beautiful springtime blooms due to excellent soil and good drainage. Planting them in a container design that is four seasons is ideal, but bulbs alone in a container in spring have a grand effect on the garden. It brings it to another dimension of beauty for me.

These windowboxes are getting a planting of colorful spring bulbs today.

These windowboxes are getting a planting of colorful spring bulbs today.

In the South, we must refrigerate bulbs 2 weeks prior to planting so that they go through a dormancy cycle and be ready to bloom their heads of in the spring.

Only in the South, bulbs will need to be chilled for 2 weeks prior to planting.

Only in the South, bulbs will need to be chilled for 2 weeks prior to planting.

When planting bulbs, you always want to have the pointed end upward and the flat side where roots will emerge or are already emerging on the bottom. However, if you do this incorrectly, the emerging stem will grow toward the sun.

Make sure to plant flat side where roots emerge at bottom and pointed tip on top.

Make sure to plant flat side where roots emerge at bottom and pointed tip on top.

Make sure to reference the planting depth on the packaging to know what is correct. The general rule of thumb is to plant 2 to 3 times deep the height of the bulb. So if the bulb is 1-inch high – plant 2 to 3-

inches deep. It is also extremely important to plant the bulbs in a location where they will receive the correct sun exposure –full sun is 6 + hours of UV light and shade is 3 or less.

Typically, I like to scatter bulbs or put them in groupings of 5 to 9 when planting them in the ground. In containers, bulbs can be planted one right next to another and be a floral bouquet as the snow melts.

Using a bulb planter is fine, but attaching an auger to a power drill makes the job super fast and easy.

Adding an auger to a power drill can speed up this project.

Adding an auger to a power drill can speed up this project.

If planting in containers, like I did, make sure to use a good container soil. Fertilizer can be used, but it isn’t necessary. However, if you feel inclined to use it an organic granular fertilizer or a fertilizer specialized for bulbs is ideal. If planting in containers in the North, make sure to top the soil with mulch or leaves to insulate the bulbs. Placing the containers in the garage, shed, or placing them close to the house would help keep the soil from freezing through.

Care

After planting your bulbs, make sure to water til it comes out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the container. If you live in a Northern climate, watering during the winter months is not necessary as the rain and melting snow will provide enough water for your containers and in-ground plantings. In Southern states, it may be necessary to water if there are spells of drought and heat throughout the winter months.

Watering in the South during the winter may be necessary (Photo Source: BHG.com)

Watering in the South during the winter may be necessary (Photo Source: BHG)

It may be necessary to protect your bulbs from squirrels and rabbits. Squirrels like to dig up the bulbs and play with them like basketballs. The way to prevent this from happening is by topping the soil with mesh or chicken wire then topdressing with mulch. The critters won’t be able to dig to get to them. The other problem may be rabbits or deer. They prefer the gourmet leafy greens of your newly emerging bulbs. I prefer using organic methods were possible and have had luck with making a homemade cayenne pepper spray to deter them from chomping on the foliage.

Don't let those squirrels mess up your spring plans!

Don’t let those squirrels mess up your spring plans! (Photo Source: BHG)

Once your beauties have blossomed, bloomed and are spent. Take your pruners and remove the stem and foliage. This will force more energy into the bulbs instead of it spending it time on the dying foliage.

Storing

After all my bulbs have bloomed, I remove the bulbs from the containers and store them for next season and plant the bare containers with annuals for the summer months. If you would prefer to not remove the bulbs from the containers, working your annuals around them is completely doable. It’s totally understandable for gardeners out there with limited time on their hands.

If you would prefer to remove and store your bulbs, remove them from your containers and prune off any foliage. Place in a paper bag and put on a shelf in your garage, basement or shed. The reason for the paper bag is to absorb any moisture so that the bulbs do not form mold or rot. Placing them on a shelf gets them out of reach for critters to eat or use them for their own purposes.

Paper bags work the best for storing your bulbs from year to year.

Paper bags work the best for storing your bulbs from year to year. (Photo Source: The Gardener)

Then the following fall (remember around Halloween), take your bulbs that you stored and reuse them in your containers or plant them in the ground. I like to take pictures of what I have done in the past and put them in the bags or make notes on the bags of what I would do differently for the following season.

With bulbs, your spring can be fill of flowers and colors!

With bulbs, your spring can be full of flowers and colors! (Photo Source: BHG)

Favorite Bulb Source: K. Van Bourgondien and Sons

1015bloomday

Simple white lantana layered with blue fan scaevola provide everlasting color and blooms from summer to fall in my garden. Bold Magilla™ Purple Perilla gives my flower bed the perfect seasonal pop of color and finishing touches for fall. I am enjoying this bed every day and dreading the first frost.

Building a container garden is as simple as 1-2-3! I have a theory of what makes for the most beautiful container gardens. It is called the Triangle Theory. The elements to this theory are that you have a tall plant, a thick plant and a trialing plant that are arranged to form a triangle in your container illustrated by the diagram below:

Some examples of tall plants for the sun include:

Cordyline, Purple Fountain Grass, Gaura (Perennial), Canna and Victoria Salvia

Canna Lilies are great for thriller in containers. Clockwise from top: Tropicanna Gold, 'Tropical Bronze Scarlet', Tropicanna and 'Tropical Rose' Canna.

Canna Lilies are great as thrillers in containers. Clockwise from top: Tropicanna Gold, ‘Tropical Bronze Scarlet’, Tropicanna and ‘Tropical Rose’ Canna.

Tall plants for the shade include:

Caladium, Coleus and Upright Fuchsia such as the variety Gartenmeister

Here is a great example of a shade container where Coleus is used as the thriller. This variety is called Red Kong.

Here is a great example of a shade container where Coleus is used as the thriller. This variety is called Red Kong.

Caladium is an excellent choice for a thriller when designing containers for shade.

Caladium is an excellent choice for a thriller when designing containers for shade.

Thick plants for sun include:

Heuchera (Perennial), Superbells Calibrachoa (my favorites are Cherry Star and Dreamsicle), Sunpatiens and Diamond Frost Euphorbia. The Calibrachoa and Euphorbia act as a 2-for-1 plant because they perform as the thick and trialing plant when used in containers.

Clockwise from top: 'Lime Marmalade' closeup, beautiful sun container with Heuchera as the thick plant, and 'Midnight Rose' with its unique purple leaves speckled in magenta.

Clockwise from top: ‘Lime Marmalade’ foliage, beautiful sun container with Heuchera as the thick plant, and ‘Midnight Rose’ with its unique purple leaves speckled in magenta.

Thick plants for the shade include:

Dragon Wing Begonias, Non-stop Begonias, New Guinea Impatiens and Impatiens

Non-Stop Begonias add a HUGE pop of color for the shade. This variety is Non-Stop Mocha Pink Shades.

Non-Stop Begonias add a HUGE pop of color for the shade. This variety is Non-Stop Mocha Pink Shades.

Trailing plants for the sun include:

Creeping Jenny (working in sun and shade – perennial), Angelina Sedum (perennial)

and Supertunia Vista Bubblegum Petunia.

Creeping Jenny's golden foliage is so vibrant and beautiful in this container garden.

Creeping Jenny’s golden foliage is so vibrant and beautiful in this container garden.

Trailing plants for the shade include:

English Ivy, Torenia and Trialing Fuchsia

Trailing Fuchsia make the most absolutely gorgeous shade trailer in a container.

Trailing Fuchsia make the most absolutely gorgeous shade trailer in a container.

One of my secret tips for making containers look good all-season long is to use a liquid fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro Bloom Booster (or a similar bud & bloom fertilizer) every two to three weeks. Think of fertilizer like a vitamin. When people take them regularly we perform better, the same is true for these living and breathing plants. With regular fertilizer, they will perform to their best ability.

Please remember that deadheading your plants is as important as fertilizing them. If faded flowers or seed pods are not removed from a plant it puts its energy into creating seeds and not flowers. Recently, I removed the seed pods from my fuchsia, fertilized them and they are pushing out new buds a few days later. I expect them to bloom well into our first frost. If you are unsure how to deadhead a particular plant, when shopping ask the staff at the garden center. They are sure to be able to help.

It is also very important to maintain the moisture in containers especially during times of drought. If it is really hot where you live, watering once every day may be necessary. A great way to tell is by sticking your finger in the container’s soil. If it is dry, your plants are sure to be thirsty, If wet, feel free to wait another day before watering. Many plants will show signs of dehydration such as puckering or browning on the leaves. Over watering can also be a huge issue. Remembering when creating your container garden that picking a larger container will help decrease the amount of time spend on watering. Since larger containers have more soil to retain moisture, they do not dry out as quickly as smaller containers.

With these simple and easy tips your container gardens should look stunning throughout the season.

Carmen

Check out my video on this very topic:

Click on the image to be linked to the video.

Click on the image to be linked to the video.

Want to turn a strawberry jar into something that can be used for entertaining? Then when you’re guests ask you where you got this fabulous piece – you can let them know that you made it yourself! Here’s what you will need for this DIY project:

– An Iron Table Top

– A Large Strawberry Jar (24″ tall x 22″ wide)

– 2 bags of Pine Bark (1.5 lb)

– 2 bags of Potting Soil (1.5 lb)

– 9 – 4″ plants including 2 Thyme, 2 Trailing Rosemary, 5 Decorative plants including 2 Supertunia Vista Bubblegum Petunia and 3 Creeping Jenny (feel free to substitute)

– 4 wooden folding chairs

– 36″ round piece of glass (optional)

Instructions:

First take your pine bark and put it into the bottom of the strawberry jar. Doing this ensures proper drainage and reduces the cost of the project because you are able to buy less potting soil. After you have filled the strawberry jar up part way, add your potting soil. You want to make sure to select a potting soil (instead of compost) with a time-released fertilizer, which will really help your plants perform. Feeding the soil into the side cups is an important step for planting.

Carmen & Lacey adding pine bark first to the bottom of the container.

Carmen & Lacey adding pine bark first to the bottom of the container.

The next easy step is to get the herbs and flowers planted. Start with the plants that you will be putting in the side cups. For ours, we have selected Thyme, Trailing Rosemary (Rosemarinus officianalis ‘Prostratus’), and Supertunia Vista Bubblegum Petunia. By selecting herbs, it will add a beautiful fragrance while you are enjoying outdoor meals with family and friends. Before planting the herbs, ripe off half of the root ball to make sure they are small enough to fit into the side cups. Don’t be afraid to do this – herbs are resilient and will recuperate quickly. To not overcrowd and give your plants plenty of space to grow, using 4″ plants will be just right for this project.

Simply go all the way around your strawberry jar until every side cup is planted rotating between the herbs and flowering plants. Make sure each cup is filled to the top with soil. After a week of watering, double-check that the soil level is the same as when it was first planted as it tends to escape. If not, add more soil to the side cups to ensure a healthy home for your plants.

Rotate your herbs and flowering plants when filling side cups.

Rotate your herbs and flowering plants when filling side cups.

When planting the top of your strawberry jar, make sure the soil is about 2″ below the rim. Take your Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’) and plant it in the top. This is a great trailing plant and won’t grow very high; making it the perfect plant for this project. Three plants are plenty to fill the top planting because it will fill in very quickly.

Three Creeping Jenny will work great for this project.

After everything is planted, give your container garden a good drink of water. Now it is time to enjoy your beautiful container garden as a table. Place four, inexpensive folding chairs around it, add the iron table top and its time to have a garden party! If you would like, add a 36″ round piece of glass to the top of your table when entertaining for a finished look and remove it when guests have gone home.

Your beautiful finished project – a gorgeous, patio table with an container garden as the base.

Invite some friends over for a garden cocktail party and show off your new work of art. Enjoy!

Carmen

Here’s a video to show the simplicity of the project!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3I9U90S8lc]

Inquire About Your Next Event:

Email: carmen@carmenjohnstongardens.com

Phone: 762-822-7696