Gardentalk – How to plant flower and garlic bulbs this fall

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

As temperatures slide below freezing this month, now is a good time to plant flower and garlic bulbs.

“Obviously, the ground should not be frozen,” says Master Gardner Ed Buyarski. “That makes it a lot easier.

He suggests working compost and other organic fertilizer into the soil before digging holes for the bulbs. Garlic, especially, is a heavy feeder over the winter.

Planting guide attached to bag of bulbs (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Garlic bulbs should be planted pointy end up, about two or three inches deep, with uniform spacing about six inches apart. Rake soil over the holes and cover with seaweed or compost. Then cover the whole planter with clear plastic or tarps so the bulbs don’t get moldy and the fertilizer doesn’t leach away in the rain.

Flower bulbs should be planted differently, according to the variety. Check the bag or box for specific instructions on planting depth and spacing.

Buyarski says he usually digs a small trench for planting a large number of bulbs all at once. Sprinkle in some bulb fertilizer just before planting the bulbs. Replace the soil over the bulbs in the trench or hole, and then cover it with mulch.

Planting guide attached to bag of bulbs (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Once bulbs get twelve to sixteen weeks of temperatures below 40 degrees, that will trigger green sprout formation.

Just cross your fingers that Juneau doesn’t experience another mild spell later this winter.

If there’s another hard freeze after the bulbs sprout early, then both the bulb and eventual blossom could be damaged.