Gardentalk – Planning ahead for a springtime splash of color

Bulbs
Bulbs bloom in the middle of the Douglas roundabout in Spring 2015. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Bulbs are already appearing in Juneau stores right now. But Master Gardener Ed Buyarski says don’t plant them just yet.

Instead, set them aside in a cool, dark place like your garage. Then wait to plant them until at least the middle or end of October, when temperatures are really dropping.

Buyarski says that for best root growth, bulbs should get at least 90 to 120 days in cool soil of about 40 degrees.

“Last year was kind of weird,” Buyarski remembers.

He recalls his flower and garlic bulbs started sprouting their green top growth too early during last December’s mild conditions.

“Then, temperatures on New Year’s Day dropped about 30 degrees,” Buyarski says. The new period of cold temperatures postponed any further top growth.

He says you can start preparing any well-drained soil now. If the soil is too moist, then mix in some sand.

Bulbs come in all varieties, colors and heights and may be specified as early or mid-season bloomers.

Tulips might only bloom well for their first season, but other varieties might bloom year after year.

Unprotected tulip buds are a favorite browsing snack for deer in the higher elevation neighborhoods of Juneau and Douglas. But deer seem to stay away from daffodils, snowdrops and alliums.

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