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Continued: How to get the most out of your spring bulbs

  • Article by: GAIL BROWN HUDSON , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Last update: October 22, 2013 - 3:09 PM

Consider color, space and impact. “Don’t just plant one bulb,” he said. “Plant at least 10 or 15 or 20 of something in order to get that impactful drift of color in the spring. Otherwise, the garden becomes a hodgepodge of different things.”

If you have limited time or money, plant one “drift of color” this year, then add to it next fall.

Buy bulbs that feel firm to the touch, not mushy or dried out, and have no signs of fungus.

Prepackaged or DIY

Packages containing a mix of colors and kinds of bulbs are popular at garden centers now, according to Bachman. “It takes all the guesswork out of it,” she said. “You just grab that package and plant it according to the directions.”

If you prefer to create your own combinations, Endres suggests choosing tulips with more saturated colors and mixing them with other spring plants.

“It might be pretty if you have an established batch of lamb’s ears with that pretty silvery leaf, and plant something that complements that, such as Poet’s Daffodil or a grape hyacinth. Then, later on, put some giant alliums behind that. One kind of combination can lead to another.”

Another tip: Keep notes so you know what you’ve planted and where.

Plant now

Daffodils should be planted by the end of this month. And, while it’s possible to plant other bulbs right up until the ground freezes, who would want to plant in the bone-chilling cold?

After you plant, be sure to cover the area with a thick layer of mulch, such as leaves or hay.

To stop squirrels and chipmunks from digging up your tulips, lay some chicken wire on top of your bulb beds and anchor it in place. (Just remember to remove it once the ground is frozen in fall or in early spring.)

Got voles and mice? Recent research from Cornell University found these critters avoid daffodils, chionodoxa, fritillaria and snowdrops.


Gail Brown Hudson is a Minneapolis freelance writer, working on a master’s degree in horticulture at the University of Minnesota.

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