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Planting and Care of Bulbs: Tips and Growing Instructions

Spring-flowering bulbs, such as tulips and daffodils, can be interplanted among perennials to provide the garden with color in spring, a time when most perennial borders are short on color. Store bulbs in a cool, dry place until ready to plant. In colder areas, do not plant until danger of frost has passed. When planting, dig generous-size holes. Plant bulbs pointed-side up unless otherwise specified. Soil should be well-worked. Water generously. Bulbs thrive in almost any well-drained soil if the proper nutrients are present. Bonemeal makes an effective fertilizer at planting time. Bulbs that stay underground year-round should be protected by mulch in winter. Summer mulching to conserve moisture is a good idea, too. After blooming season is over, do not cut back leaves while they’re still green because the plant’s leaves nourish the bulb continually. Remove spent blooms.


Alliums come in all shapes and sizes - a perfect summer bulb. They fit into almost any garden setting and provide a much-needed bridge of color between spring and summer flowers. Alliums do best in full sun with well drained, fertile soil and good moisture. Plant them in September or October about 8-10” deep. They really look best in the company of other summer bloomers. Sweet alyssum, rock cress, bachelor's buttons, coreopsis, sweet William, foxglove, baby's breath, daylily, iris, red hot poker, coralberry, barberry, Japanese Maple, Deutzia rosea, weigela, and Geranium pretense are just some of the companion plants that look fantastic with alliums.


Soak the anemone tubers for an hour or two before planting, and select an area with full or partial sun. Anemone tubers should be planted 2-3 inches deep and 2-3 inches apart in well-drained soil. After planting, water thoroughly, but don't drown the tubers if you live in a wet region - overwatering can cause rot.

The anemones should provide full blooms in August or September. These round flowers make great cuts for bouquets! After the blooming season is over, leave the foliage in place - don't cut down the leaves until they die back on their own.


It is ideal to wait to plant begonias until after 1/2-3 inch buds appear. For early blooming, first plant the tubers in flats or pots of peat moss indoors. If the buds don't appear to be starting, store them in a warm place.

Choose a filtered- or full-sun spot for your begonias. If you live in a clay-heavy or wet region, prepare the soil by adding peat moss, loam, and sand for a "foamier," well drained plot of soil. Plant the tubers and water well.

Begonias love attention, so be sure to remove dead flowers for better blooming capabilities.

Calla Lilies

Calla lilies bloom best in full sun. Wait until the threat of frost has passed, or plant them indoors first. Plant calla lilies 4 inches deep and 10-12 inches apart. Calla lilies prefer well-drained, humus enriched soil.

Your calla lilies will grow quickly once established. They bloom in spring and summer, and the blooms are long-lasting: up to two weeks. Remove spent flower stems to tidy up the plant for the rest of the growing season.


Drainage is vital to crocosmia, so find a well-drained area and consider amending the soil with peat moss or compost to improve drainage. Plant in full sun.

Plant the crocosmia 2-3 inches deep and 8-10 inches apart, with the pointed end of the bulb facing up. Water geneously, settling the soil. Expect the crocosmia to sprout in a few weeks, given warm weather - if the temperatures in your area are cool, they may take longer.


Crocus have perfect timing. They will bloom well before grass starts to grow and by the time it reaches mowing height, the plants are finished for the season. Crocus are most impressive when planted en mass. Pick out a large sunny area in the garden, lawn, or a wild area (rocky spots are great). Plant large drifts using groupings of 20-30 bulbs; place bulbs 3-6” deep and space them about 3-4” apart. Established crocus clumps bloom earlier than first-year plantings, so avoid planning your garden colors around first-year bloom times.

Crocus require almost no care and are hardy in zones 4-8. If your crocus seem to perform poorly, the most likely reason is over-watering in the summer.


Plant bulbs before they dry out; if you must wait to plant daffodil bulbs, keep them cool and moist. Plant the bulbs at least three inches deep, if you live in an area with harsh winters. Space them 3-6 inches apart and water thoroughly.

In blooming season, water daffodils regularly. Deadhead the plants as flowers die off, but do not cut the leaves for at least six weeks after they stop growing. After the growing season, you made add bonemeal to the soil to enhance the next year's blooms.

Pink Daffodils: When Pink Daffodils first unfold, the trumpet is a lovely yellow-apricot color which will gradually change to a soft pink. It is important to plant this variety in an area where they will receive full sun in order to achieve the optimal pink color.


Plant dahlias in late spring, in an area with a great deal of sun. Tubers should be planted 4-5 inches apart with the pointed end up (check the instructions included with your specific variety). Water to secure the bulbs, but water very lightly or not at all after planting is completed. Once growth is started, water once per week.

Some varieties of giant dahlias grow very tall - up to four feet! You may wish to stake taller flowers to avoid damage to stalks. Remove spent flower stems to encourage new growth and a fuller appearance.


Find a sunny spot - freesias prefer areas where the sun shines for 8 to 10 hours per day. Plant 1 1/2 to 3 inches deep and at least 3 inches apart. Consider fertilizing the plants when they are 6 inches tall. While the freesias are actively growing, water once per week, but don't flood the soil.

When planted in the fall, freesias will bloom in the spring, with flowers lasting for up to four weeks. When the plants have finished blooming, allow the foliage to die down naturally.


Plant gladiolus bulbs in early spring, as soon as the soil is free of frost. Gladiolus prefer full sun or partial shade. Plant in rows or bunches, about 6 inches apart. Add mulch to retain water.

Smaller corms or bublets may take more than one season to produce blooms.


Irises comprise one of the largest cultivated plant groups, with hundreds of varieties. Growing requirements vary greatly, but most iris prefer lots of sun and bloom in the spring or summer. Plant bearded irises with fleshy roots partly exposed or thinly covered, and plant 1 to 3 feet apart.


Plant your lilies 4 to 6 inches deep to keep the bulbs cool in the summer and moist in the winter. Add fertilizer and water, but do not water after plants begin to flower, unless you live in a particularly dry region. Because lilies are produced in such a variety, check the packaging of your bulbs for more information.


Choose a well-drained location and space 6” or more apart. The lighter the soil, the deeper the tulips should be planted. In colder areas, holes 4-5” deep are usual. In southern states, 7-9” deep is recommended. Take care to place bulbs firmly at the bottom of the hole. Bonemeal may be added to promote more vigorous blooming. Fill the hole half full with soil, pressing soil firmly around bulb. Water thoroughly and fill hole to top with soil. Water again, very thoroughly. Continue watering during the spring growing season and through to fall if dry.

To induce better bulb growth, cut flowers for indoor use or as soon as they fade. You may also sprinkle fertilizer around established bulbs each fall. Never cut foliage unless it is brown. Bulbs may be left underground all year. To relocate tulips, dig them up after leaves have turned brown. When the bulbs are dry, remove the roots and clean off dirt. Store in a dry airy place until fall planting time.

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