With spring around the corner, start thinking of planting spring bulbs.
When it comes to talking about spring bulbs it's important to know which bulbs you are talking about. While bulbs that flower in spring like daffodils, crocus and tulips, are planted the fall before, bulbs that flower in the summer are planted in the spring. These include gladiolus, tuberous begonias and dahlias.
According to Chris Dawson, landscape designer and host of Home & Garden Television's "The Seasoned Gardener," when planting spring bulbs the time to plant depends on the type. Anenomes, acidanthera, Asiatic lillies and Mexican shellflower should be planted in early spring. Summer hyacinth, gladiolus, and montbretia should be planted in April-May. Dahlias, tuberous begonias, cannas and caladiums should be planted in late spring after the soil temperature has warmed.
Look for plump, firm bulbs without bruises, cuts, soft spots or odors of decay.
"Generally speaking the larger the bulb the bigger the bloom," Dawson said. "Choose them like you would buy fruit, avoiding any that are soft and mushy or are moldy or bruised. Note that loose or torn outer skin is not a sign of a bad bulb, in fact it may have already started growing."
Keep your bulbs cool by holding them in a refrigerator before planting them.
Most bulbs need a sunny location and well-drained soil in order to flower. In excessively wet conditions the bulbs tend to rot. If you need drainage add compost or peat moss to your soil.
Planting bulbs so that the bottom is at a depth that's two and a half times the diameter of the bulb. Space them several inches apart except for dahlias, which grow into bushy plants and need two feet between them. Make sure that you go deep enough. If you plant bulbs too shallowly, you may encourage damage from pests. Plant the bulb pointed end up.
"Also try and mimic nature and plant bulbs in natural looking drifts or clumps rather than in straight lines," says Dawson.
When trimming the bulbs, remember that flowers can be dead headed, or removed after they fade. But don't remove the foliage until it yellows and dies back. After a bulb blooms it needs its foliage to produce food for the next year. This is true for all bulbs - those that flower in spring and those that are planted in spring.