Plan Now for a Spring Flower Explosion Plus My Picks for Spring Blooms
Rules are meant to be broken.
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If you follow my blog, you likely already know that tulips have never been my thing. It isn’t that I don’t absolutely LOVE them. I do. Rather, I grow so many tropical plants that are at their best during the summer months. Tropical plants take lots of water, and summer watering tends to rot out any tulip bulbs, preventing them from returning the following year. Tulips have never been known to do too well in Texas unless they’re replaced each year. I’ve always had a rule about not bothering with them, but this year, I found every excuse to break that rule.
Little did I know, that when my spring flowers were rising, we’d be facing COVID-19 and a total lockdown! Since I was unable to get out and peruse garden centers like I normally would, I was eternally thankful that it was this year that I decided to break my own rules about bothering with fall-planted bulbs. Why I certainly can’t speak yet on how many of this gems will pop up again in the coming spring, I can certainly attest to the fact that my first time spring garden was a major hit with my neighbors! I’m not sure if they were shocked to see my garden coming alive so early in the season or if it was simply the fact that normally busy people had nothing better to do than stroll past my garden, but I received more comments about this spring-blooming beauties than anything else I’ve ever planted!
Tulips didn’t entirely steal the show this past spring. They worked with longtime accomplices such as daffodils, alliums, and hyacinth. I learned a lot of valuable lessons that I’ll definitely put into play next spring. Keep reading to learn how to plant a spring flower explosion, effortlessly.
Plant Deeply with Help
It isn’t that I didn’t already know the golden six-inch rule pertaining to planting spring-blooming bulbs deeply. The problem I faced was that I live in Texas. We are pretty famous for our red clay dirt, and despite my treating my gardens to fresh topsoil EVERY SINGLE YEAR, the soil in my gardens stays rather hard as a rock. Speaking of rock, my gardens have a lot of that, too. Planting deeply is often next to impossible.
When I planted these bulbs last fall, I wasn’t yet aware of a nifty little tool that has become a lifesaver for me almost overnight. I used all of the strength in my body to move a shovel deeper than a few inches but I had oh so many bulbs left to plant and it was chilly outside and exhaustion quickly set in. Truth be told, the more bulbs I planted, the shallower the holes for them became. Not only does this make it far too easy for squirrels to dig these expensive babies up (which they did in some cases), the flowers came up several weeks too early across the board. I was fortunate that late frosts didn’t take them out and ruin the blooms for the entire season. It certainly could’ve happened.
Luckily, this won’t be a problem that I face going forward. I’ve discovered the Garden Auger. I truly cannot speak highly enough of this magic tool! Essentially, it’s a drill bit that attaches to a drill. It powers through tough rocky soil like a champ, and it makes short and painless work of planting bulbs! Not only does it help you with digging holes, but it also makes quick work of dividing deeply planted things and getting to the roots of pesky weeds!
Please believe me when I say, you NEED this tool. I’m only sad that it took me so long to discover it. The Garden Auger is so easy to attach and use, I really can’t come up with a single complaint about it. I’d advise you to wear safety goggles, just in case a rock or something pops up during the drilling process. This auger works quickly and efficiently and before you know it, you’ve got as deep and as wide of a planting hole as needed.
Start Planning Now (if you haven’t already)
Summer is the time to buy all of your spring-blooming bulbs. In fact, some varieties are so popular that you almost need to purchase them a full year out to ensure quantities are available. If you haven’t already shopped for your spring bloomers, do so today. These bulbs will ship to you either in the fall or early winter, depending on where you live. I’ve even received some as early as late August, although I held onto them until the temps cooled before planting.
Buy Online from Reputable Places
While there are hundreds of varieties of spring-blooming flowers around, the one thing they all have in common is that they aren’t cheap! Many of these flowers are shipped in from Dutch farms and this adds to their immense expense. While I’m all about pinching a penny when it’s practical, these are one of those cases where quality truly does matter. The further south you live, the more that’s true. You’re going to need a little luck and very high-quality bulbs to ensure a good flowering season, let alone a repeat show in the coming year(s). I highly recommend the following two merchants when purchasing bulbs:
Both of these merchants will send you quality bulbs quickly. While there are several other big-name nurseries that will also send the good stuff, I mostly work with these two. When the price is an issue, these are your best bet.
Go for Mass Plantings
A single tulip by itself is okay, but a group of tulips is your best bet for a knockout display. I don’t always practice what I preach here, but in my defense, my gardens are HUGE and it would be astronomical to fill them completely. Unlike most home gardeners, I experiment with different stuff each year, and a lot of it is almost guaranteed not to return here in Texas. For the blog, my gardens serve as more of a test garden than a formal display garden. I grow to see what you should grow, so I focus a lot more on large varieties than a mass planting of any one thing.
Having said all of that, if I were to grow a regular home garden, I’d focus more on fewer varieties and more of one thing or color scheme for shock value. There’s nothing more eye-catching than an endless row of similar colored flowers or a bunch of the same type of tulip in a variety of colors like what’s shown above.
Don’t Bother with Bone Meal
I know grandma said it’s a must, and while it certainly IS a bloom booster, bone meal feeds lots of other undesirable things like skunks and nasty toothed rodents. In fact, bone meal almost guarantees that your bulbs will be dug up by some critter.
While Haley and Levi moved in for Logan’s last deployment, they brought with them three cats. Now I love other people’s cats, but around here they don’t fit in so well. Unfortunately, I had a bag of bone meal in my “garden closet” indoors. Cats being the curious little things they are, one had managed to get locked in the said closet for an undetermined length of time. When I finally found him, he had ripped the bone meal bag to shreds and while I’m sure he ate some of it, most of the stinky powdery mess had wound up in the carpet. If you do insist on this old favorite bulb food, store it in some sort of plastic container with a lid outdoors, and check planted bulbs daily in case they’ve been dug up.
Don’t Cut Spent Foliage
Whether you use fertilizer or not, definitely don’t cut the dying or dead foliage off of spent flowers from bulbs or corms. This is what feeds the bulb and prepares it for a repeat showing. If you cut the dead foliage off too soon, you’re killing the bulb. Wait until the majority of it has died and returned into the soil.
To keep things simple, I normally cover dead and dying foliage by simply planting something in front of it. I know of many tidy gardeners that purposely kill their bulbs each year because they can’t stand the yellowing foliage. If you do this, plan on having to replant that same bulb each and every year. That might work well for people with loads of extra money or with things like tulips that probably won’t return well anyway, but those are really the only cases that seem feasible to me.
Beginner Guide to Spring Flowering Bulbs
Sun or Little Sun
I have a giant willow that prevents a large part of my garden from receiving any sun whatsoever in the summer. Fortunately, spring-blooming bulbs rarely have any issues with planting locations. They rise before trees have filled out again with leaves and they bloom well nearly everywhere they’re planted. The only cases in which I’d worry about how much sun my spring bloomers are receiving is for late spring blooming flowers, and honestly, that’s not normally too big of a concern, either. Just ensure that there is no permanent structure like a porch overhang or evergreen trees preventing sunlight and you should be fine.
I could do an entire post on all of the varieties of each spring-bloomer available, but that’s not the point today. Instead, I’ll focus on what I planted this year. Most everything I planted performed to expectation. It came up, seemed strong, and the blooms lasted a decent amount of time. Some things, like the daffodils, had blooms well into summer! I’ll update this very post in late spring 2021 to explain what returned and what didn’t.
As for the troublemakers, they were all of the alliums I planted, along with the fritillaria. The alliums, or Globemaster, Gladiator, and Mt. Everest, came up but didn’t perform well. The flowers were small and rather short-lived. I’m hoping that these return next year with a much more impressive display. As for the fritillaria, the squirrels kept digging them up. I found bulbs on the ground more than a few times and replanted them, but I believe the squirrels finally did them in for good. All varieties came from Bluestone Perennials. As of now, I’m not blaming the nursery. I ordered many other things from them that did great.
My great performers were as follows (please note, Iris won’t bloom the first year so I can’t report on blooms just yet):
|Tulip Amazing Parrot|
|Beautiful Blend Feelin Hot Hot Hot Lily Flowering Tulip|
|Hyacinth Delft Blue|
|Hyacinth Mixed Pastel|
|Tulip Caribbean Parrot|
|Beautiful Blend Tulip Sangria Splash|
|Beautiful Blend Tulip Twilight Sparkle Fringed Tulip|
|Perfect Partners Golden Cotton Candy Parrot Tulip & Double Daff|
|Dutch Vintage Lovely Lingerie Tulip & Daff Mix|
|Daffodil Ice King|
|Eternal Bliss Reblooming Bearded Iris|
|Wow Towering Tulip Collection|
|Merry Amigo Bearded Iris|
|Augustine Reblooming Bearded Iris|
|Spring Spectrum Iris Collection|
|Most Fragrant Daffodil Collection|
|Deluxe Double Daffodil Collection|
|All about Spring Bearded Iris|
|Presby’s Crown Jewel Reblooming Bearded Iris|
|Decadence Bearded Iris|
|Berry Awesome Hibiscus|
|Champagne Elegance Reblooming Bearded Iris|
While I didn’t receive any spring-bloomers from Eden Brothers this year, I do still highly recommend them. I get a lot of my summer-bloomers from them and they always do great!
Now that I’ve finally tried it, I’ll be sure to plant spring-bloomers each and every year! I loved having color in the yard before the trees leafed out! The entire yard smelled like flowers, which impressed the neighbors as much as the visual experience. My only regret was not having near enough flowers to fill my planting spaces. With some things like daffodils sure to return, I’m hoping that over time, I’ll have one of the most impressive spring flowers shows in the city!
Learn from my mistakes and be sure to plant tons of bulbs in one central location for the most awe-inspiring display. Make sure to grab that auger to save your muscles, time, and sanity! Skip the bone meal and buy everything NOW from a reputable place such as those mentioned above. If you click on the links in this post, I’ll get a small commission and will be very thankful!
That’s all for now but check back soon for a post on creating the best butterfly garden and how to prepare a garden closet for winter. Happy gardening!
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