PRODUCTION

Planting Fall Bulbs for Spring Blooms with Mike Darcy


November 3, 2020

The fall season is certainly upon us and I was about to say that it is my favorite time of year, but I probably also said that about spring!

Planting Fall Bulbs

There is so much to enjoy in the fall and even more now that we have had some much-needed rain. The rain seemed to clear the air and with daytime temperatures warm and the nights cool and crisp, it is a beautiful time of year. In my neighborhood, some of the leaves on deciduous trees are starting to turn color and yet, many plants like Salvia and Fuchsias are still blooming. I don’t think my fuchsia plants have ever looked better!

Fall is also the time of year when gardeners need to be thinking about spring and the bulbs that we plant now for their flowers in the spring. We are fortunate to live in an area where many spring-blooming bulbs perform exceeding well. Luckily, Wilco has an excellent selection of bulbs. Tulips, daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, lilies, etc., all thrive in our area and this is the ideal planting time.

Planting Fall Bulbs-crocus Crocus, Photo by Doug Barragar

All of the above-mentioned bulbs are easily grown and with a few basic requirements, they can provide an abundance of spring color. Most bulbs like a sunny location and soil that has good drainage. If clay is an issue with your soil, consider adding some compost at the time of planting. A general bulb fertilizer can also be added at this time.

Lilly Miller Bulb & Bloom Food, 4 lb.

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Remember, this is your best chance to improve the soil around the bulb. After planting and even with fall rains, I like to give newly planted bulbs a thorough soaking.
If squirrels, voles, chipmunks or gophers are a problem, consider making a cage of chicken wire around the bulbs.

Poultry Netting, 12 in. X 50 ft.

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A smaller mesh wire may be necessary if dealing with voles. If the problem is squirrels or chipmunks, often just laying chicken wire over the planted area will give control. Deer, however present, a different problem.

Planting Fall Bulbs-tulips Tulips, Photo by Doug Barragar

Tulips are often considered deer candy and I would avoid planting them unless you are prepared to use a deer repellent on a regular basis. The other mentioned bulbs are not on the deer main menu and generally, deer will leave them alone. However, be aware that if deer are hungry, they will eat almost anything.

Planting Fall Bulbs-daffodils Daffodils & Pieris, Photo by Doug Barragar

Many gardeners are taking a naturalistic approach to gardening and daffodils are ideal for this purpose. Consider planting them in an area where they can grow and thrive and come up every spring. There are other bulbs that will also provide this effect, but I think daffodils are among the easiest. I am always in awe when I am driving on I-5 in the spring and see clusters of yellow daffodils blooming, in what was once probably someone’s garden.
If your space is limited and you have access to a deck or patio, try planting a container with bulbs. Actually, your space does not have to be limited to plant bulbs in a container. I always have some containers of spring-blooming bulbs on our deck and by our entryway. If this is your first-time growing bulbs in a container, I would suggest starting with daffodils.

When selecting your container, be certain that it has adequate drainage. Try to select a container that has enough depth to allow at least 6 inches of a potting mix in the bottom and then with enough space to allow 6 more inches of potting mix to go over the bulbs. Place the bulbs as close together as possible without letting them touch each other. Then add the other 6 inches of soil over the top. For some diversity and early spring color, I like to plant crocus bulbs around the inside rim of the pot. Crocus only need to be planted about 3 inches deep. Then to ‘top’ off your container, plant pansies and you’ll have instant color. In most of our NW areas, pansies will bloom all winter and the bulbs will come up through them in the spring.

Planting Fall Bulbs-grape hyacinth Grape Hyacinth, Photo by Doug Barragar

Many of the best-selling and popular bulbs sell out early, so even if you are not quite ready to plant, it’s a good idea to buy your bulbs now. Don’t be left out of spring-blooming bulbs because after our winter, they are a bright spot in the garden and a signal that spring is near.

PHOTOS BY DOUG BARRAGAR


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MIKE’S GARDEN IS LOCATED IN OREGON’S WILLAMETTE VALLEY AND HIS ADVICE IS CONSISTENT WITH THE MILD CLIMATE THERE.
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