Plant bulbs now in Western Washington to enjoy spring blooms

This is a great week to purchase bulbs at the local nursery is as soon as you see them for sale, and add spring flowering bulbs to your landscape.

Western Washington has the perfect climate for growing tulips, daffodils, crocus and other spring bloomers as our mild winters and early springs are similar to what they experience in Holland, considered the bulb growing capital of the world.

The year of 2020 may be remembered for many negative things, but this month may be your chance to change the cycle of loss and lamenting and make 2020 the year you added hundreds of spring flowering bulbs that will perennialize and return for years in defiance of the darkness that was COVID-19.

This fall I will be adding more “Angelique” tulips to my front garden as this double pink variety looks like a peony but with a shorter stem that won’t flop over in the rain. I also will add more of the orb-shaped blue blooms of the flowering onion or alliums. The Allium “Globemaster” has huge blooms on stems up to 3 feet tall, and as members of the onion family this showstopper is naturally pest resistant.

Best bulb planting questions

Q. I have planted bulbs in the past and they have never bloomed. I know that down below the ground mice gnaw on my tulips, then if a few survive and get ready to bloom the deer move in to chomp off the buds! I am done with tulips. Are there any pest resistant bulbs?

A. Daffodils to the rescue! Mice and deer will not destroy daffodil bulbs underground or daffodil blooms above ground, so this is the good-to-go bulb for spring color in areas where deer roam free. You will need to protect daffodils from slugs and snails once the new shoots emerge in the spring. Like all bulbs, they need well-drained soil so they don’t rot in the winter rains.

Q. My soil is rock hard and full of rocks. It is difficult to dig holes for bulbs. Any suggestions for a lazy gardener?

A. I have two ideas for “no dig” bulb planting. The first is to scratch the soil, set the bulbs on top then cover the bulbs with 6-8 inches of topsoil. If you don’t want to have topsoil delivered to your home (deliveries are usually at least 10 yards, a huge amount that can be used on lawns as well as beds) you can purchase garden soil or raised bed soil in bags at home center stores or nurseries. Just open the bag of soil and pour it on top of the bulbs. Cover with a wood chip mulch to keep the mound of soil in place.

Q. How deep should I plant my bulbs? I have crocus, daffodils, tulips and hyacinths to plant.

A. The general rule of green thumb is to plant bulbs two to three times as deep as the height of the bulb. If you have squirrels, plant your bulbs

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Color your spring with fall bulbs

Carole McCray
 |  More Content Now

If you have, over the years, looked at gardens where there is a profusion of color with spring-flowering bulbs and wished for the same showstopping display in your garden, then now is the time to think about planting spring-flowering bulbs.

I had been remiss some years and did not plant certain bulbs or as many as I should have, and then came spring, and I had regrets. So, this fall, make time for spring color in your garden and plant fall bulbs in the perennial bed and beneath trees and shrubs. If space is a problem, fall bulbs can be planted in pots, containers and window boxes, and even be forced to bloom indoors.

Not all bulbs are the same. That is, some fall bulbs work as perennials, others are considered annuals. Daffodils and scilla are reliable as perennials. Tulips and hyacinths have become annuals for me. The National Garden Bureau suggests treating them as annuals, and to check bloom times so you can enjoy a long season of flowers. Since tulips and hyacinths often bloom as annuals, the National Garden Bureau suggests experimenting with new color combinations every year.

Some of their tips for planting spring-flowering bulbs:

• The best times for planting are mid-October through mid-November. Early December is the latest for planting. Plant bulbs about three weeks before the soil begins to freeze.

• Well-drained soil and about six to eight hours of sun are the ideal locations for bulbs.

• Your selection of bulbs should include bulbs with different bloom times. Early-, mid- and late-season-blooming bulbs will guarantee a colorful spring show of flowering bulbs.

Carole McCray resides in Cape May, New Jersey and is an award-winning garden writer who has been writing a monthly garden column, The Potting Shed, for regional newspapers for nearly 20 years. Her articles have been published in The Christian Science Monitor Newspaper, Coastal Living Magazine, Cape May Magazine, Growise Garden Guide and Ideals Magazine. She won the Garden Writer’s Association Award for newspaper writing for The Christian Science Monitor Newspaper.

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In the Garden column: Color your spring with fall bulbs – Lifestyle – The Topeka Capital-Journal

If you have, over the years, looked at gardens where there is a profusion of color with spring-flowering bulbs and wished for the same showstopping display in your garden, then now is the time to think about planting spring-flowering bulbs.

I had been remiss some years and did not plant certain bulbs or as many as I should have, and then came spring, and I had regrets. So, this fall, make time for spring color in your garden and plant fall bulbs in the perennial bed and beneath trees and shrubs. If space is a problem, fall bulbs can be planted in pots, containers and window boxes, and even be forced to bloom indoors.

Not all bulbs are the same. That is, some fall bulbs work as perennials, others are considered annuals. Daffodils and scilla are reliable as perennials. Tulips and hyacinths have become annuals for me. The National Garden Bureau suggests treating them as annuals, and to check bloom times so you can enjoy a long season of flowers. Since tulips and hyacinths often bloom as annuals, the National Garden Bureau suggests experimenting with new color combinations every year.

Some of their tips for planting spring-flowering bulbs:
• The best times for planting are mid-October through mid-November. Early December is the latest for planting. Plant bulbs about three weeks before the soil begins to freeze.
• Well-drained soil and about six to eight hours of sun are the ideal locations for bulbs.
• Your selection of bulbs should include bulbs with different bloom times. Early-, mid- and late-season-blooming bulbs will guarantee a colorful spring show of flowering bulbs.
Carole McCray resides in Cape May, New Jersey and is an award-winning garden writer who has been writing a monthly garden column, The Potting Shed, for regional newspapers for nearly 20 years. Her articles have been published in The Christian Science Monitor Newspaper, Coastal Living Magazine, Cape May Magazine, Growise Garden Guide and Ideals Magazine. She won the Garden Writer’s Association Award for newspaper writing for The Christian Science Monitor Newspaper.

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Planting hurricane lilies and other bulbs in Florida

By Brenda Daly
 |  For the Times-Union

Tulip, daffodil and hyacinth bulbs are at the garden center now. Do I plant my spring bulbs immediately?

You are learning why gardening in Florida is so different. Many of the things that are available at some garden centers are not meant for Florida’s warm, humid climate.

Unfortunately, all those bulbs need a chilling period. Tulip, large flowered daffodil and hyacinth bulbs can be grown as annuals in Florida, but must be pre-chilled. A separate refrigerator would be ideal so you can control the temperature and keep them away from ripening fruit, as ethylene gas affects the bloom. Even then, if we have a warm spring, the blooms may not last long.

One bulb you might find at the garden center is Paperwhite narcissus. They are sold nationally as an annual to force inside. Paperwhites are a perennial in Florida and will naturally bloom around Christmas when planted in your yard.

Check out local plant nurseries for suitable bulbs. If you order from national catalogs, check the growing conditions needed. Zone 9 in California has different growing conditions than our zone 9 in Florida. One bulb you might find is Lycoris (hurricane lilies), which are blooming now. They are called hurricane lily because they bloom in late summer or fall when we are getting tropical system rains. Local nurseries frequently carry these bulbs. Lycoris radiata is the classic red hurricane lily. Lycoris aurea is also called golden spider lily. Both have a bare flower stalk that appears first and then the leaves grow through the winter.

Other bulbs that are blooming now, with our rainy summers are the rain lilies, the pink and yellow ones. They seem to bloom in the summer and fall with cycles of rain. White rain lilies include spring blooming Florida natives of Zephyranthes atamasca and Zephyranthes simpsonii. The other rain lilies are native to the southwest United States, and Central and South America. All will self-seed and naturalize. The two main Genera are Zephyranthes and Habranthus. There are many species of rain lilies and many hybrids. Hybrids do self-seed, but their offspring will be different. For instance, I started with dark pink hybrid Zephyranthes, but now I have lots of offspring that are pale pink.

Daffodils normally need winter chilling, but these low chill varieties will bloom in Florida: Carlton, February Gold, Trevithian, Erlicheer and Paperwhites. Other zone 9 small flowered Narcissus in the Tazetta class might be worth a try.

The bulbs are going to have a dormant period, with no above ground growth. You also need to let their leaves naturally age from green to brown for their dormant period. If you have a manicured landscape, you might want to camouflage their aging leaves. You also need to remember where you planted them, so you don’t damage the bulbs by digging or overwatering them while dormant.

One method is to plant them in a low ground cover, where you can gently rake the brown leaves away

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A time for waiting in the garden: Evaluate caladiums, watch camellias and order bulbs | Home/Garden

EVALUATE CALADIUMS: When the plants begin to look tired and less attractive, and about two-thirds of the leaves have fallen over, it’s time to dig the tubers. Caladiums may return the next year if left in the ground, but it is more reliable to dig them and store them indoors over the winter. Dig the tubers carefully, leaving the foliage attached. Spread out in a well-ventilated area to dry. When the foliage is dry and brown, remove it from the tubers and store them in paper or net bags indoors over the winter.

WAITING FOR CAMELLIAS: Camellia flower buds are starting to swell but generally will not bloom until November or December. Water now if weather is dry to prevent problems with blooming later on.

ORDER BULBS: Order spring bulbs in time for them to arrive in November. The best selection of bulbs is found at mail order companies online. A good selection is also readily available now in local nurseries. You can purchase them while the selection is still good, but there is no hurry to plant them. November is the month we plant most spring bulbs here.

WATER: September weather has been relatively dry, and October is often one of our drier months. Be sure to check lawns, shrubs, flowerbeds and vegetable gardens regularly. When the soil is dry down several inches and/or plants show slight drought stress, water deeply and thoroughly as needed.

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Dan Gill is a retired consumer horticulture specialist with the LSU AgCenter. He hosts the “Garden Show” on WWL-AM Saturdays at 9 a.m. Email gardening questions to [email protected]

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