Out With the Summer Bulbs and in With the Spring
Blooming bulbs are best planted in large random groupings to create a naturalized effect
On a blazing October day, gardening may be the last thing on your mind. While I am usually tempted to sit back on the patio and soak up the year's last warm sun, I know that days like these are the best time to work in the garden before the weather turns. There is nothing I hate more than doing fall chores in cold, wet weather.
The spring blooming bulbs I ordered have arrived in the mail, and planting them on a nice day makes the job a lot more pleasurable. I prepare for planting them ahead of time by cleaning up my beds, cutting back perennials that are looking rangy, which allows them time to form neat mounds of basal foliage before winter sets in. Cutting back perennials in the fall makes them look a lot more attractive and makes spring garden prep a breeze. I also systematically remove any annuals that have stopped blooming. Moisture in the ground makes pulling them out, roots and all, a lot easier.
Once the beds are cleaned up, I assess where I want to plant spring blooming bulbs. As a rule of thumb, try to remember to plant in large numbers instead of just clumps of one to five. I try to plant bulbs so they look like they have "naturalized" -- which is to say, I plant them in large random groupings that are irregular in shape but near each other, much as colonies of blooming plants are clustered in a field or woodland.
I also begin digging up summer blooming bulbs such as cannas, callas and dahlias just before the first frost. A day or two before an imminent frost, I cut back my dahlias. A hard frost turns many plants black and mushy, and I find that cutting them back beforehand makes the task much easier. I also harvest the last of the dahlia flowers, dispensing bunches to friends and neighbors.
After I cut the tops of the plants back to about 8 inches above the soil, I carefully dig the bulbs. Instead of shaking the soil from the roots, I leave it clinging to the long banana-like tubers. I then place the clumps, dirt and tubers alike, into plastic milk crates lined with plastic garbage bags. I fill the lined crates 1/3 full with coarse vermiculite, and place the clumps on top of it.
I let the clumps sit in the crates, uncovered, for a few days in the open air (move them inside if rain is expected) before covering the clumps completely with vermiculite. I make sure there is a minimum of 6 inches of vermiculite over the top of the clumps. The vermiculite will allow the tubers to breathe but will also help hold in moisture so they don't dry out during their winter dormancy.
I store the crates in the basement, stacked one on top of the other. I keep my basement at about 45 to 50 degrees, but as long as the tubers are kept above freezing and lower than 60, they will be fine until it is time to plant them back out next spring. If anything, err on the cool side. Warm temperatures can dry tubers out.
Taking care of chores like digging and planting bulbs is a lot easier while the weather is still nice. It means I can look out the window on those cold rainy days that lie ahead without feeling the slightest but of guilt.
- Out With the Summer Bulbs and in With the Spring
- Enliven Your Home With Orange
- Structure Is the Key to a Successful Garden
- Jewelry Center to Organize and Display Your Collection
- Interesting Foliage and Fall Blooms Make These Perennials Winners
- Easy Design Ideas Create Intimate and Romantic Dining Room
- Your Pillow Could Be Robbing You Of a Good Night's Sleep
- Price Drops and Financing Options Boost the Appeal of Solar
- Late-Season Bloomers Keep the Garden Party Going
- Fall Is for Planting and Getting Good Deals at the Nursery
- Top 10 Cleaning Myths You Need to Know
- Sensual Fall Bedroom Fixes Emphasize Easy Opulence
- Introducing Privacy to Open Concept Living
- White Kitchen Redux Has Balanced and Timeless Appeal
- Are Net-Zero Energy Houses on the Horizon?
- Easy Home-value Boosters
- The $50 Living Room Makeover
- How to Revive Your Home in a Weekend
- The Planet-Friendly Kitchen
- 10 Great 'Green' Home Improvements for 2011
- Dog Days of August: Time to Think of Planting for Fall
- Top 10 Interior Decorating Mistakes
- Will This Home Renovation Pay Off?
- 9 Reasons to Buy a Newly Built Home
- Fur Fight: Taming Pet Hair in Your Home
- Insect Control Is for the Birds
- Blueberries From Your Own Backyard
- What's My Carbon Footprint?
- Reusing and Recycling 101
- Common Sources of Odor and How to Eliminate the Smell
- Agapanthus: A Beautiful Option for Busy Gardeners
- Here Comes the Sun: Don't Let Summer Heat Deter You from Gardening
- Tips To Help Keep Your Home Cool This Summer
- Accessorize Your Home Like a Pro
- A Personal Gym Brings Your Workout Home
- Small-Space Gardening: When the Back 40 Is on Your Porch Railing
- The Way You Water
- 6 Can't Fail Sofa Buying Tips
- Tips for Holding a Successful Garage Sale
- Open Shelves: Designer Trend or Decorating Disaster?
- Stars of the Garden Can Be Leafy Rather Than Blooming
- Cut Back on Summer Spending
- Make Dad's Day With a Customized Home Bar
- How to Lavish Less Labor and More Love on Your Garden
- Banish Bathroom Counter Clutter With Clever Storage
- Creating a Beautiful Garden Can Be as Easy as Getting Dressed in the Morning
- The (Air) Drying Chronicles
- Cooking Ranges: Should You Go Pro?
- Tweak Your Home Decor for Summer
- Some of the Best Gardening Happens Where the Sun Doesn't Shine
- How to Cut Your Air-Conditioning Costs
- Moving Day: 10 Ways to Take the Stress Out of Packing
- Feeling Overwhelmed by Garden Tasks? Make a List and Get to Work
- Time to Make Habitat for Returning Birds
- Create A Girl's Bedroom Fit For A Princess
- How Feng Shui Can Improve Your Life
- How Does Your Garden Grow?
- Go Green and Improve Happiness
- New Uses for Old Things: Household Odds and Ends
- Homeowner Savings Tips: What You Might Not Know
- Sure-to-Please Home Decorating Ideas
- Planting Strawberry Jars for Spring Color
- 5 Elements Guarantee a Perfect Outdoor Living Area
- Paint Your Kitchen 'Green' With These Eco-friendly Tips
- Trends in Painting: Is Faux Over?
- How to Have a Gorgeous and Organized Kitchen
- Shovel-Ready Project: Dividing Your Perennials
- Can Clutter Make You Sick?
- A Rose Is a Rose Is an Heirloom Rose
- Banquette Seating Makes For Cozy and Comfy Dining
- Controlling Dust in the Home Is a Never-Ending Task
- Fireplace Facelift Not a Job for the Faint of Heart
- Gorgeous and Glamorous Gray Goes the Distance
- Easy Eco-friendly Spring-cleaning
- 30 Top-To-Bottom Spring Cleaning Tips
- Too Cold to Plant? You Can Still Get Ahead of Garden Maintenance
- Area Rugs to the Rescue
- Rarin' to Get Planting? Here's What You Can Do Now
- Freshen Up Your House Whole House For Spring
- Don't Overlook Bulbs of Summer; Now Is Time to Plan Planting
- Time to Ready Your Backyard for Return of Avian Tenants
- You Can Pick Up Furniture Bargains In Unexpected Ways
- No Room for a Cellar? Create a Wine Closet
- Greener Living 101
- 5 Cheap and Easy Decorating Ideas
- Spring-cleaning Checklist for Your Health and Your House
- Teen Decor That Puts the Cool in School
- Late Winter Is Time for Pruning and Forcing
- Key to Extraordinary Garden: Starting Your Own Seeds
- Barclay Butera: Create Modern Rooms Simply By Changing the Walls
- Four Common Eco-mistakes
- Are Vinyl Shower Curtains Safe?
- Where to Save and Where to Spend on Interior Decorating
- Wanna Get Away? Tropical Plants Can Help
- 10 Sneaky Ways to Get Organized
- A Better Load of Laundry
- Everyday Chores Get Greener
- Soothe Winter's Chill With a Steam Shower
- Houseplants Add Life to Your Winter
- Is Your Bedroom Decor Keeping You up?
- Seed Catalogs Trumpet the Promise of Spring
- Turning Down the Thermostat? Your Cyclamen Will Thank You
- A Room With a View: Clever Decorating Can Improve Your Vista
- Get Your Kitchen Drawers Organized Once and For All
- 10 New Year's Resolutions For Your Living Space
- Fantastic Faux Finishes
- Evergreens Add Color: Interest in Otherwise Dull Winter Landscape
- What to Do in a Frozen Pipe Emergency
Copyright © 2011, TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC