My Bulb Planter
I’m in love with my bulb planter. I never thought I needed one because I tend to plant bulbs in masses. I find it so much easier to dig a large hole than lots of small ones. However, in my established garden, a bulb planter is indispensable. I began using it to cut plugs of ground covers to start new beds or to use in my containers. Now, when I pull out a plug of ground cover, I drop in one or two bulbs!
This way I have fabulous daffodils, tulips and my favorite snow drops (Galanthus) growing in beds of vinca, sweet woodruff and barren strawberry. As the bulb foliage begins looking tatty and yellowed, it’s easy to tuck away under the ground cover. I don’t have to go back and cut the foliage. It simply disintegrates (adding organic matter to the bed, I might add).
Plant Bulbs in with Perennials
I also use the bulb planter to set bulbs in beds of perennials. Although it may slice through some of the roots of the plants in place, it doesn’t seem to harm the plants. I remove a plug of soil close to the perennial and drop bulbs in the holes. When I do my perennial planting in early fall, I make it a habit to make the hole bigger and add bulbs around the edges of the perennial. It’s fairly easy to add ten to twenty bulbs next to each new perennial.
Hide bulb foliage
The bulbs bloom as the perennial foliage emerges, which makes a lovely canvas for bulb blossoms. As the bulbs fade, the perennials take over. It’s pretty hard to keep from yanking ugly fading bulb foliage when it is spoiling the look of a bed. But, if the foliage is hidden by perennials coming up around it, we can leave it in place to replenish the bulbs.
Cover bulb foliage with annuals
Spring planted annuals also make lovely way disguise for fading bulb. Again, use a bulb planter to make holes between the blooming bulbs to drop annuals into. Voila! As the bulbs fade, the annuals are in place to hide the foliage.
It’s time to plant!
Garden centers are now filled with bulbs, and catalogs seem to arrive almost daily. Although tulips and daffodils are the queens of the bulb garden, how about considering adding some smaller bulbs to round out your display?
Try small bulbs to enhance your garden
Winter aconites and snowdrops start the display in February and March. There’s nothing to make the spirits soar quite like fresh green and white snowdrops in the snow.
Smaller bulbs like dwarf iris, hardy cyclamen, and chionodoxa add color March through June. Botanical tulips, smaller and shorter than traditional Darwin hybrids, come up extra early. Their great advantage is that they do not exhaust themselves after one or two years as hybrid tulips tend to do.
Site bulbs correctly
Bulbs need plenty of sun and well-drained soil to produce healthy blooms. Although most bulbs perform best in full sun, you can plant early bulbs under deciduous trees. Grape hyacinth, small tulips, small daffodils and winter snowflakes will get the sun they need to replenish the bulb while the trees have no leaves. By the time the trees leaf out, the bulbs will be on their way to dormancy.
Author: Kate Jerome
I am an avid home gardener and cook, free-lance writer, cooking and gardening blogger and teacher. I love sharing ideas and techniques of simplicity in the garden and kitchen. I have a formal background (M.S. degree) in ornamental trees and shrubs, but my true love is vegetable and herb gardening with a few perennials thrown in for good measure. I have spent my career as the director of an urban farm and horticulture instructor at a technical college, a garden columnist for several newspapers and gardening magazines, a book author, and guest horticulturist on public radio call-in shows.