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Planning Your Springtime Bulb Program

In all of the excitement of moving into our new home and with fall upon us, I've recently accumulated an absolutely absurd number of spring-flowering bulbs for our garden. They are so simple to plant — nothing more than digging a hole and plopping in a bulb — but so splendid when they bloom that the whole exercise almost feels indulgent. Such a huge payoff for so little work. And putting them in now means you're essentially adding another mini season of flowers to your garden with no additional care, minimal planting effort up front, and almost no need for extra space. That said, selecting bulbs can feel a bit overwhelming. The following tips should help you make the right selections for your space.

Image courtesy Monty Don.

Aim For Staggered Bloom Times

Snowdrops and crocuses are among the earliest bloomers, sometimes popping up while there's still snow on the ground (thus the name "Snowdrops"). Tulips tend to offer mid-to-late spring color and alliums come along in early summer amidst the perennials. Knowing this bloom-time information (always available on bulb packaging) can help you create a gorgeous bulb program that provides weeks and weeks of color.

Image by hanohiki courtesy iStock.

Be Mindful of Sunlight

Just like other plants, bulbs do have preferred light conditions for optimal flowering and success. Earlier blooming bulbs will be emerging before the leaves come out on the trees, so an area that you're accustomed to thinking of as shady in summer may have ample sunlight in March or April.

Image by Martin Wahlborg courtesy iStock.

Know Your Heights

Spring bulbs come in an enormous array of heights. From 4-inch tall crocuses to 3-foot high alliums, there's a perfectly sized bulb for every space. Think about size when selecting which bulbs to buy and where to plant them. Pick a spot where they won't be blocked by the emergent growth of surrounding plantings, or visa versa.


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