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Plant fall bulbs now for great spring color

Thank goodness for the few nice days we had a week ago. I was able to get into my vegetable garden and perennial and annual flower beds and cut back a lot of the plants to prepare for next spring.

The other thing that I still need to do is plant spring-blooming bulbs so that I have something to look forward to for next year.

Most people like instant gratification and unfortunately, planting spring blooming bulbs in the fall does not give us the feel-good instant gratification that annuals and other flowers give. You have to wait until next spring for the reward.

However, it’s really great in the spring when all of these start popping up. I didn’t have to do any spring work to get the incredible blooms of tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinth and other spring-bloomers.

I know, I am trying to justify planting now and not getting anything back immediately but trust me, it’s worth it.

I try to put a few daffodils and other bulbs in each year to build up my early spring color. With daffodils, I try to spread out the bloom for a longer period of time by planting early, mid- and late spring bloomers.

In addition, I spread out the early spring color by adding a variety of spring bulbs to the palette. For instance, snowdrops have white flowers that bloom really early spring, sometimes even with snow on the ground.

Other bulbs that bloom in really early spring include winter aconites (wonderful yellow and great for naturalizing), early snow glories (Chionodoxa), early daffodils and dwarf iris.

Bulb companies go even further and break spring (and the matching blooms) down even further, including very early spring, early spring, mid-spring, late spring, early summer, mid-summer and late summer.

Some of the bulbs that are sold for summer and late summer are not usually planted in the fall, however. These include gladiolus, cannas and calla lily. These need to be planted in the spring when soils are warm and stored in the house over the winter.

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to planting tulips and crocus is damage from rodents. Deer consider these plants candy and will devour a beautiful display in no time.

Therefore, if you have deer and other critter (rabbits, chipmunks) pressure, consider planting daffodils and hyacinths. In addition, early snow glories, snowdrops, striped squill, grape hyacinth and allium are also good choices that the rodents avoid.

If you really want tulips and crocus, you’ll have to protect them from rodents. Deer like to feed on the fresh flowers and chipmunks and squirrels will dig up and eat the bulbs.

At planting, dip the bulbs into a repellent and then plant to prevent bulb feeding. In the spring, when they are in bloom, placing chicken wire or other fencing over the plants will keep the deer out.

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