Beautiful Bulbs

Planting, Growing, Moving Bulbs

Crocuses and daffodils, tulips and hyacinths: the flowers that return to our gardens every year like events on the calendar. Their beloved blooms may have short seasons, but their bulbs will only multiply as each spring turns to summer and then waits out the winter before a reliable return.

When and How to Plant

If you’ve been living in a lawn zone, or purchased a new home that doesn’t have established beds of these hardy perennials, be sure to plant your bulbs in the autumn months, at least a month before the first hard frost is expected.

Many Canadian gardeners choose the Thanksgiving weekend to thin out their bulb beds or, if they’ve had to dig them up and store them to protect them from chipmunks, squirrels, deer or rodents, to reintroduce them after a summer in storage. The bulbs will over winter in the cold and burst to life in a quick succession as the sun returns to the soil.

However, you should not be deprived of colour during your first spring in a new garden. In spring, you don’t want to buy tulip, daffodil or hyacinth bulbs, but established plants from the nursery with their buds still tight and closed. Space your new plants at least a stretched hand’s length apart and try to get the bulb, which will resemble a rooted onion, at least one hand’s length deep into the sail. Choose high and dry beds where extra moisture will be drained away for your bulbs. Too much moisture may cause mould and rot of your bulbs and jeopardize future blooms.

Maintain and Move

Many gardeners distribute their types of bulbs throughout the bed, so that during the growing season they always have another burst of blossoms as one fades. Crocuses, then daffodils, then tulips, then hyacinths often share beds because they adore the same conditions. As your plants become more established, they will produce more bulbs. Every second or third year, you may need to dig up your bulb beds in the fall to thin out what has become overcrowded under the soil.

There is some debate among gardeners about whether or not hyacinth – and other bulbs – need to be dug up and left to chill in peat moss all winter. Fortunately or unfortunately, most Canadian gardeners don’t need to move their bulbs to the fridge drawer or root cellar for the 8 to 12 weeks of constant cold the bulbs need to bloom again in the spring. Nature, like she does with most things, takes care of that for us.