by Jeroen Koeman—
It’s a fact of life: For fabulous flowers that bloom in spring—such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus and others—you must plant them in the fall. Bulbs require a “winter sleep” or cold period. Most tulips need at least 14-16 weeks of “cold period” to develop a big beautiful flower.
If you follow these simple tips you will have a beautiful spring garden:
1. Don’t plant too early
Plant when the soil temperature drops below 55˚F. If it’s 70-80 degrees outside it is too warm and the combination of warm temperatures and rain can cause those precious bulbs to rot. We live in central Virginia and don’t plant till early November.
2. Good drainage
As they say in Holland, bulbs don’t like wet feet. Find a spot that drains well so your bulbs won’t drown.
3. Plant Deep
We recommend planting tulip bulbs 6-8” deep. This will encourage your tulips to come back, keep the soil temperature more consistent, and discourage squirrels from digging up a tasty organic snack! Planting later is also a good deterrent as they are less active and the cold will help mask that yummy bulb smell. Muscari and smaller bulbs like species tulips are planted 4” deep.
Adding compost to your soil is always good, as healthy soil equals healthy plants. We add a little compost to the bottom of the hole and mix it in with the soil.
5. Tip Up
Always plant your bulbs with the tip up or at least sideways, otherwise their root system will be facing the wrong direction and their chance of survival decreases. And we don’t want that.
6. Add Mulch:
Add a couple inches of mulch to insulate the soil, especially in colder climates. Leaves and straw are good choices.
An organic spring garden is easy and important for the bees as it provides an early and healthy food source.
The Tulip Man