Gardentalk – Annual bulb planting primer

Bulbs ready for planting. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)
Bulbs ready for planting. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Pointy end should go up; that’s one of the most important things for Juneau gardeners to remember as they plant their bulbs over the next few weeks.

(Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)
(Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Master gardener Ed Buyarski suggests digging a trench about 8 inches deep in a raised planting bed or hillside that drains water away. It may not be a good place to plant if water pools in a freshly dug hole.

“Rather than in a low spot that’s going to be soggy all winter long and may very well cause the bulbs to rot,” Buyarski says.

It may be a good idea to line some trenches with sand and gravel to assist with drainage. More ambitious gardeners can build French drains to divert water away from planting areas.

Before planting, line the trench or holes with bulb food or 8-32-16 fertilizer, except for most tulip varieties that act as an annual and will expend most of their nutrients for the first flowering.

(Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)
Be sure that you are planting bulbs in an area that gets enough sun. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Many bulb packages contain helpful information about recommended spacing and depth, and whether to plant in a portion of your yard with direct sun or partial shade.

Place bulbs in the hole or the trench with the pointy end facing up. Otherwise, bulbs may have to expend extra energy to sprout and grow vertically.

For gardeners expecting another long mild winter, cover planting beds with plastic or spruce and hemlock boughs to keep the soil cool and prevent the bulbs from sprouting early.


Listen to the October 1 edition of Gardentalk on bulb planting that aired during KTOO’s Morning Edition program:


Earlier Gardentalk – Preparing for bulb planting that aired Sept. 10, 2015


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