Randy Nelson, University of Minnesota Extension, Published September 12 2012
Plant hardy bulbs now for spring beautyMOORHEAD - If you were envious of beautiful tulips and daffodils
growing in gardens this spring and would like your own colorful display, then you should begin planting soon. In Minnesota the best time to plant hardy spring flowering bulbs is from mid September through mid October. Tulips can be planted until the soil begins to freeze.
When choosing your spring flowering bulbs make sure they are hardy for our area. Select bulbs that are hardy for zone 3 or 4. Bulbs are graded and priced accordingly based on bulb circumference. Always select the largest circumference bulbs to ensure stronger and larger flowers. Pick bulbs that are firm with crisp papery skins. A little mold on the skin of the bulb is not a concern as long as the bulb itself is free of mold.
Also, check the root plate for any chips or scars which could result in poor root growth.
Bulbs should be planted in a location that receives six to eight hours of full sunlight per day and free of standing water. Heavily shaded locations, low areas, or locations near downspouts should be avoided. If you have a shaded yard it may seem difficult to find an area that will receive enough sunlight. Remember that most spring bulbs bloom before
trees leaf out and as long as the foliage receives six weeks of good sunlight they should bloom the following year.
After you have chosen your site, loosen the soil to a depth of 10 inches by thoroughly digging or tilling. As you are working the soil it would be beneficial to add two to three pounds of a 5-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet. This is also a great time to add well rotted compost or peat moss.
Remember to call Gopher State One Call prior to digging so buried utilities can be located. Follow the guidelines that came with the bulbs for proper planting depth and spacing. If guidelines are not available, a good rule of thumb is to plant the bulb two and one half times its height with depth being measured from the top of the bulb.
Design your planting site so bulbs are in groups using one color or a blend of similar colors. Use taller flowering bulbs towards the back of your site and shorter flowering bulbs in the front so all bulbs can be enjoyed.
After planting, water bulbs thoroughly. Mulch the surface with three to five inches of leaf material, grass clippings, hay, or straw. Mulch will insulate the bulbs and help keep the soil temperature more constant during late fall and early spring.
Rake back the mulch in spring as the shoots begin to emerge, but keep a little handy in case of hard frosts that may damage early emerging shoots. Proper post bloom care is necessary to allow plants to store food in the bulb to ensure good flowering next season. Deadhead plants after blooming by cutting the flower stalks as close to the leaves as possible. Fertilize lightly using a handful of 5-10-10 fertilizer or a bulb fertilizer as the
flowers begin to decline.
Do not cut leaves back until they are completely yellow or have started to dry. As longs as the leaves are green, they continue to feed the bulb. If you have questions regarding this article please call the University of Minnesota Extension office, Clay County at (218) 299-5020, (800) 299-5020 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out our website at http://www.co.clay.mn.us/Depts/Extensio/Extensio.htm
Randy Nelson is a University of Minnesota Extension educator in Clay County.