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Plant Fall Bulbs to Brighten Your Spring

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The chill of Winter finally begins to subside. After months of gray skies, sunlight slowly begins to warm the earth. Your heart warms too, because the bulbs you planted last Fall are just starting to emerge. At least, that’s what ought to happen. And why shouldn’t it? Bulbs are so easy to plant, and so worthwhile when they bloom. What are you waiting for? Get inspired by our favorites and get started by following a few simple steps.

6 Bulbs That Turn Us On


Darwin Hybrid Tulip is a Natural Selection.
It’s a very large tulip with the classic shape that comes to mind when you think of tulips. Most are reddish-orange, but you can also find them in pink, yellow and white.

Parrot Tulips are All the Talk.
We just had to mention these. Like the birds, they come in all kinds of beautiful vibrant colors, and their curly, frilly petals wave like feathers in the breeze. Huge blooms hold up well.

Nothing Daffy About Daffodils.
Nearly everyone loves to see these sunny yellow or white flowers. Daffodils stand up to the cold and are always among the first flowers to send shoots upward in the Spring.

Let’s Go Dutch – Iris, That is
Dutch Irises are a favorite because they are just so dependable. Flower petals luxuriously drape over their sides, and the blooms come in a wide variety of intense colors.

Wow, a New, All-Time Hy–acinth
Sweet fragrance and flower clusters stemming from low plants are character-istics of this perennial spring beauty.

Crocus Pocus.
Almost like magic, these lovely little perennials (2-4 inches tall) are always among the first signs of spring. Crocuses come in many colors – red, orange, pink, purple and more. A side benefit: pesky critters don’t seem to attack them.

7 Steps to Fall Bulb Planting

1. Be Picky. Specifically, about your bulbs and where you’re going to plant them. At your garden center, choose bulbs that are free from obvious physical damage, mold or mildew.

2. Timing Isn’t Everything. But it’s pretty doggoned important. Plant your bulbs when the soil has cooled, but well before the ground freezes. Late September and October are normally just about right.

3. Get in Deep. There are exceptions, but here’s a good rule of thumb: dig a hole about three times deeper than the bulb is tall. So, a 3-inch bulb needs a 9″ hole. Sandy soil? Go slightly deeper. Clay soil, go slightly shallower. Choose a well-drained spot for planting that will get at least six hours of sun each day. Constantly wet, mushy ground is a good way to rot bulbs.

4. Don’t Miss the Point. When you plant bulbs, ALWAYS do so with the point facing up.

5. Get Good Dirt on the Subject. Bulbs like well-aerated, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. If you have poor soil — too sandy or too much clay — add amendments to improve it. Be sure to add 1-1/2 heaping teaspoons of Espoma Bulb-tone® or Bio-tone Starter Plus® into the planting hole with the bulb, where the roots can find it. This rich, organic, slow-feeding plant food is especially formulated to meet the nutritional needs of bulbs. Feed again at the same rate when plants are about six inches high.

6. After Dinner Drink. After covering the bulbs with rich organic soil, water well to help them become established before winter.

7. To Mulch is Enough. Adding a 3-inch layer of mulch over the surface of the soil will help insulate and protect the bulbs against freeze and thaw conditions. If you’re worried about the shoots finding their way through it in the Spring, you can always pull back the mulch in April.

Other Bulbous Tips

  • If you have destructive pests like voles and squirrels, you may need to plant bulbs in a cage. Bulb cages may be purchased at garden centers or fashioned by hand with a bit of wire mesh or chicken wire.
  • Consider planting bulbs in groups or random order, keeping in mind that some will not sprout. This will create a more natural-looking appearance than a regimented, straight line.
  • Consider planting low bulbs in front of high, or layering bulbs to create striking combination arrangements when they bloom.
  • Bulbs don’t usually need to be dug up at the end of the first year. After the second year, watch for signs of crowding, like smaller blooms. That’s a signal it’s time to dig bulbs up, dry them out for a few days, divide and replant them.
  • For fun, try planting bulbs in containers.

There you have it, a short primer on Fall bulb planting. Give it try. It’s fun, easy and a great excuse to play in the dirt this Autumn. Best of all, after a long Winter you’ll be rewarded with beautiful new growth springing up around you – a very pleasant reminder of why you undertook the effort in the first place.

9 Groundbreaking Tips for Summer Bulbs

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Why Summer Bulbs are a Bright Idea

  • Summer Bulbs add texture, color, height and glamour to your garden
  • Versatile – plant them in the ground, window boxes or containers, indoors and outdoors
  • Adds the “exotic touch” that comes from sub-tropic species
  • Provides years of beauty and enjoyment when you plant them every spring
  • Easy to grow and care for by following a few simple steps

Hot Bulbs for Summer

We often think of planting bulbs as a Fall activity for Spring color, but there are many Summer Bulbs that can be planted now that bring bright color, cheer and sweet fragrances into our lives. Okay, some are actually corms or tubers, but they always get lumped in with the true bulbs. Our favorite Summer Bulb varieties include:

  • Caladium – sometimes called “elephant ear” due to the big heart-shaped leaves. Leaves are marked in varying patterns of white, pink or red.
  • Canna – often called a lily, but it’s not. Large, 3-petaled flowers are red, orange, yellow or a combination.
  • Gladiolus – Long stems with many flower spikes bursting forth in colors that range from pink to red or light purple with white.
  • Dahlias – One bulb produces dozens of flowers in one bulb. This is sure to create a colorful commotion in your garden.

9 Groundbreaking Tips

  1. Selecting Bulbs: When you buy new bulbs, make sure they’re firm and heavy-not squishy, lightweight or crunchy.
  2. Give them a warm reception: Plant bulbs when you would plant tomatoes-make sure the soil is not too moist and make sure it has warmed up to about 60 degrees.
  3. Step out of the shadows: Plant bulbs in well-drained soil that gets good sunlight. A little shade is O.K. Damp, dark spots will rot bulbs before they grow.
  4. Point them in the right direction: Most summer bulbs are planted 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface, pointy end up. Add some high quality organic plant food, such as Espoma Bulb-tone. For container gardening, choose a high quality potting mix, like the one from Espoma.
  5. A drink – but don’t drown them: Water bulbs well, but allow them to dry before watering again.
  6. A growing appetite: Feed established bulbs (when plants reach 6″) monthly with Espoma Bulb-tone.
  7. Don’t leave them out in the cold: Many Summer Bulbs will not survive the cold of winter. If you live where bulbs could freeze, dig them up and store them. Do this when the bulb plant’s leaves turn yellow in the fall.
  8. Skip the bath: Dust off – don’t wash – the excavated bulbs and put them in a bucket of peat moss, sand or vermiculite. Store them in a cool (50–70 degrees), dry place.
  9. Know when to split: Don’t divide bulbs before storing. Divide in the Spring before planting.

Spring for something different in your garden this year: Summer Bulbs. They’re bright, colorful, and the hottest thing to come along – besides summer.

Video: Planting Lilies with Garden Answer!

Watch as Laura from @GardenAnswer plants a variety of lilies with the help of Espoma!

Featured:

Dig Canna, Dahlia and Caladium

Some of our favorite summer show-stoppers like Cannas, Dahlias and Caladiums, need to be dug up in the fall for overwintering. It isn’t a difficult job and you’ll be rewarded with larger and larger plants every year. You’ll also get more of them. That’s how these plants spread.  Besides, it feels good to be outside on a crisp fall day wearing that faded out sweatshirt you love. Let someone else rake the leaves while you divide and conquer.   

Canna

Cannas are amazing planted in the ground. And, rising three to five feet tall, they can really elevate large container combinations. Their rhizomes are modified roots that store the plant’s energy for the next year. The rhizomes of a happy canna can easily double in size after one growing season. Just imagine how showy they’ll be next year.

Digging

In late fall, when the stems and leaves have died back or been killed by the first hard frost, is the perfect time to lift them. Make sure to do it before the ground freezes. First, cut stems back to two inches. Then, use your shovel to cut a circle at least two feet in diameter around the plant’s rhizomes, and gently lift the clump. Using your hands, shake off all the excess soil. If the soil is sticking to the rhizomes, rinse them with the hose until they’re fairly clean.

Drying and Storing

Pick a spot in your garage, basement or someplace dark with good ventilation. It should be at least 70 degrees F. Spread them out on several layers of newspaper. Let them dry for at least a week, it helps to discourage mold. Now they are ready to store. Use paper grocery bags or crates, something that allows airflow to put them in. Look for a cool (but not freezing) dark place to store them like a basement or a garage. Check them now and again to make sure none are shriveled or mushy, discard those as soon as possible.

Planting

Plant the following spring after the threat of frost has passed and the soil has begun to warm. Always add Espoma’s organic Bulb-tone when planting to give them the specialized nutrients they’ll need to flourish.

Dahlias

Dahlias come in hundreds of shapes, heights, sizes and colors. Besides being superstars in the garden they make excellent cut flowers. Some flowers are dinner plate sized and many reach four to five feet in height. They enjoy full fun in moderate climates. Prepare to be wowed!

Lifting

After the first frost, cut the dahlias back to four inches and dig the clumps just like you would have for cannas. The tubers are breakable so, go slow and gently shake off extra soil. No need to rinse them. Let the clumps air dry for several days in a dark place with good ventilation.

Storing

You can pack dahlia tubers several ways. Planting them in large nursery pots with damp soil is one way. Storing them in cardboard boxes, filled partially with damp potting soil, peat moss or vermiculite will also work. It’s also possible to store several clumps in large black plastic bags. Gather the top of the bags loosely so there is still some air circulation. Store in a cool dark place that does not freeze. A frozen tuber is a dead tuber. Check on them now and then, go easy on the water since you don’t want them to be too moist. If they are dry, you can mist them or add some damp organic potting mix.

Planting

In the spring, divide the clump into several with some of last year’s stem. Plant outdoors after the threat of frost has passed and add Bio-tone Starter Plus to help them get a good start.

Caladium

Caladiums are popular for their large foliage in shades of white, red and pink, often in wild mosaic patterns. They like shade to part sun, making them perfect for displaying in less than sunny spots in the garden. There are now a few varieties that are sun tolerant. It will say so on the plant tag. While they do thrive in sun, regular, perhaps even daily watering will be needed.

Lifting

When temperatures begin to fall below 60 degrees F, dig up tubers and leave stems attached. You don’t need to remove all of the soil just yet. Leave them to dry in a cool, dark space for two to three weeks.

Storing

After the tubers have cured, brush off the remaining soil and cut back the withered stems. Store them in a cool dark space. Packing them in sawdust or sand will help keep them from drying out too much.

Planting

You can plant them outside after the threat of frost has passed and the ground has warmed up. They can also be started early indoors. Just pot them up on a good quality potting soil like Espoma’s organic potting mix and give them some Bulb-tone to give them the best possible start.

Here are links to some of our other blogs we hope you will enjoy.

Get Easy Blooms with Spring Planted Bulbs

5 Reasons to Start a Cutting Garden

Winter is Coming – Frost Preparedness

Espoma Products

 

Spring Flowers Melt the Winter Blues

Spring has sprung and it’s time to get outside and plant up some early spring containers. A trip to the local garden center will surely inspire you. Plant big pots of brightly colored bulbs and annuals to liven up entryways, patios and balconies. Laura from Garden Answer shows you just how easy it is to do.

Laura fills her containers with tulips and violas, true harbingers of spring. Alternatively, you could also use daffodils and other cold hardy annuals like Iceland poppies or nemesia. In cold climates, it’s important to select plans that are hardy enough to withstand a cold snap.

These early spring containers will flower for a month or so, bridging the gap from early spring to the frost free date. When it’s time to plant summer containers, replant the tulips out into the garden where they’ll bloom again next spring. The violas may also be moved to a lightly shaded area of the garden.

Four Easy Steps to Early Spring Containers

  1. Prep Containers. Fill containers three quarters full with good, quality potting soil like Espoma’s Potting Mix and prepare to plant bulbs at the depth they were in the nursery pot.
  2. Add Nutrients. Add Bulb-tone fertilizer to the soil, following package directions.
  3. Get ready to plant. Gently remove the plants from their pots and loosen roots. Add plants.
  4. Finish it up. Back fill containers with more potting soil and water deeply.

Enjoy flowers for even longer by choosing tulips or daffodils that are not yet in full bloom. When finished blooming, just remove the flower stem. The leaves will still provide a vertical accent and the bulbs need the foliage to replenish themselves.

Taking time to deadhead the violas will extend their bloom time. If temperatures are cool, you may only need to water containers once a week.

Check out these videos from Garden Answer about tulips and early spring planting.

Plant Your Window Boxes Like Garden Answer

How to Care For Your Tulips After They’ve Bloomed

 

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Bulbs to Plant Now for Late Summer Color

Right about now, daffodils and tulips are in full bloom making even the simplest of streets beautiful.

People are snatching up the blooms and putting them in vases and arrangements. And some are even heading into garden centers to get those flowers for their garden.

But, in most regions, spring blooming bulbs are best planted in fall to be able to bloom in the spring.

Don’t worry! There are many varieties of spring-planted bulbs that are just as beautiful as your traditional favorites.

Keep your garden thriving and plant bulbs now to have amazing summer color. Wait until the last frost date has passed to plant to ensure your bulbs won’t freeze. Check the tags on your bulbs for planting information or head over to your local garden center for specific region information. Don’t forget to mix your soil with Bulb-Tone to create beautiful big blooms!

Our Favorite Bulbs to Plant this Spring

Dahlia

With a variety of sizes, colors and designs, dahlias have become one of the most popular flowers. Be sure to buy a bunch of bulbs though, it’s hard to plant just one. Bloom time is between mid-July and September. These dazzling beauties will showcase your garden anywhere you plant them. They are technically a tuber, but are planted the same way you would plant a bulb.

Lily

Stay on trend this year and plant a lily. With the option of Asiatic, Trumpet or Oriental, or a mixture of the three, your garden will be full of color lasting summer through fall. Look for lilies with the color and pattern to add texture and design. Bloom time is between June and September, depending on variety.

Begonia

Known as a grandmother’s flower, begonia’s are perfect for any garden. Most people don’t know that the begonia family is quite large, with lots of colors, shapes and sizes. Bloom time starts in mid-July. Since there are so many options with begonias, choose something in the double flower, ruffled double flower or the pendulous varieties.

Calla Lilies

This eye-catching flower will add wonder to your garden. Calla lilies are elegant and timeless and perfect for containers. They come in a large variety of colors and textures to match every style. Bloom time is between July and October. Grab varieties of calla lilies such as Flame, Captain Marrero or Ruby Sensation for the paintbrush affect.

Ranunculus

This exquisite flower is a display itself with its layer upon layer of silky petals. It is similar to a rose and is often considered high end delicacy. One thing to remember is to soak the bulb before planting to encourage growth. Bloom time is between June and August.

Watch below as Laura from Garden Answer shows how to plant bulbs!

 

Get Easy Blooms with Spring Planted Bulbs

Spring-planted bulbs will burst with beautiful blooms that are perfect for bouquets and make a statement with little effort. For the best flower show, we recommend planting plenty of bulbs.

If it’s about 60°F and you’re ready to plant your tomatoes outside, then it’s warm enough to plant summer bulbs. If your days are still cold, start your bulbs indoors in pots. Then, move them to the garden when the weather improves. Or, leave them in the pots to liven up porches and patios.

Dahlias, canna lilies, begonias and gladiolus all make great additions to yards. Head to your local garden center to find out which spring flowering bulbs are best for your region.

Plant Summer Bulbs in 6 Simple Steps:

1. Visit your local garden center to choose your bulbs.

2. Select where you want to plant your bulbs so they’ll get the right amount of sun. Choose a place where they won’t be accidentally dug up, such as under a tree, in a lawn or in a perennial bed.

3. Plant bulbs using a spade or bulb planter in well-drained soil to the depth indicated on the package. Some bulbs, like dahlias, need to be planted deeper.

4. Sprinkle Espoma Organic’s Bulb-tone in the hole and place your bulb.

5. Replace the soil, gently pressing it down and water your newly planted bulbs.

6. Cover bulbs with a layer of mulch to keep moisture in and weeds out.

Once your bulbs have bloomed, remove the faded flowers but leave the foliage. They bulbs will use it to store energy for next year.

Are your spring bulbs spent? Watch how Garden Answer cares for tulips after they’ve bloomed.

https://youtu.be/K0FMDf96ak4

 

How to Care for Tulips After They’ve Bloomed

 

Not sure what to do once tulip blooms are finished? Laura from Garden Answer demonstrates how to care for tulip bulbs so they come back year after year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show Highlights with Garden Answer

The Espoma Company and Laura from Garden Answer visit the 2017 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, “Holland: Flowering the World.” Bridges, windmills, canals and water gardens explore the architectural aspects of Holland. While a sea of 30,000 flowers reflects the traditionally grown bulbs. The natural and sustainable approach of the Dutch New Wave Movement is evident throughout the garden displays. And a not to miss light display illuminates the beautiful landscapes.

Want more? Check out the full version of our Philadelphia Flower Show tour with Garden Answer.

2017 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show Walk-Through with Garden Answer

Laura from Garden Answer guides you through this walk-through of the 2017 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, “Holland: Flowering the World.” Laura breaks down the design elements from the show so gardeners can bring the natural look of Holland gardens to their own back yards. Explore the bridges, windmills, canals and water gardens on this tour that is inspired by the Dutch New Wave Movement.

Like what you see? Check out this video to learn how to plant blooming bulbs in your own yard.