Fall is the time to plant bulbs. A small investment of time now will pay off in huge dividends in the Spring, and far into the future. I have great respect for homeowners who take the time to plant fall bulbs, because it involves some careful forethought. It is also demonstrates patience in that the reward for the work comes months later, and not instantly. Surprisingly, most people will not take the time to plant bulbs because of the absence of “instant gratification.” (stay with me folks, there’s a “life” lesson in your future) But first, let’s look at the planting criteria for bulbs.
It’s really a very simple process. First off, the soil needs to be in the range of 55-60 degrees (that’s now if you live in the Midwest). This is the optimum temperature to stimulate the newly planted bulbs to begin to “root,” but not so cold as to freeze them prematurely.
I like to plant my bulbs using a paddle-bit for an electric drill. I find that the 1.5″ bit makes the perfect sized hole for a standard tulip bulb, and makes a clean hole fast.
You should follow the planting directions that come with the bulbs you purchase, but the standard depth for tulips is usually 6″. Place a piece of tape on the shaft of the bit at the 6″ mark to gauge your depth with drilling. Once you drill the hole, be sure to place the bulb in right side up (see pictures) and use the shaft of an old hammer to gently push the bulb to the base of the hole. Next, cover with some top soil and mulch…finish by watering them thoroughly.
As I stated above, planting bulbs, in my opinion, is the mark of the mature and wise gardener. Tulips and other bulbs are interesting because they “naturalize” or spread over time. Most species of tulips naturalize-when unaffected by rodents- via underground stems called stolons, or daughter bulbs. The new naturalized plants are usually identical to the parent plant.
Planting 20 or 30 bulbs now will bring 20 or 30 beautiful early Spring flowers, but the next year, the numbers will double, and grow exponentially year-after-year.
The Life Lesson:
I have noticed something similar with my kids. There are small bits or “bulbs” of wisdom that I’ve buried into them that seem useless to them at the time, but as they have aged, those bits of wisdom naturalized and are now producing some positive outcomes.
A simple, but important one would be how to properly shake a man’s hand. I taught my boys at the ages of 6 and 7 how to properly shake hands: firm grip, stiff arm, look the man in the eye, etc. When the boys were very young, it was kind of a joke to them when they’d practice what I taught them. However, now that they are teenagers, the skill has naturalized and is now second “nature” to them, and they shake hands like men. I can only wonder if as they become adults, the difference between them getting a good job or not will be in the way they shake the interviewer’s hand. It will be interesting to see this one naturalize exponentially over time.
A great place to view and purchase a wide selection of quality bulbs is here: