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Time to plant spring blooming bulbs

I love just about anything having to do with flowers and plants. Other than some of my ornamental grasses and other plants that remain in the landscape and garden, there is not much color out there.

One of the things that gets me looking forward to spring is the emergence of my spring bulbs. This delayed gratification is worth the effort. You put the work in now and the enjoyment comes in the spring.

Spring-blooming bulbs need to be planted in the fall. They require a cold spell of around 12-15 weeks in order for the flower buds to set. Anytime from now until mid-December is optimal to plant spring blooming bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and many more.

There are numerous bulbs available either at garden stores or online. For the widest selection, online companies such as Brent and Becky’s Bulb will have the best and unusual varieties.

When selecting bulbs, you will find size differences among tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. You will pay more but the bloom display is much grander with the larger bulbs.

When it comes to tulips, not all tulips stick around for a long time. You want to look for those varieties of tulips that naturalize in the garden and will come back consistently.

When you see large displays of tulips such as those you might see at a public garden or at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanic Garden, you are looking at a one-season display.

Since these tulips won’t come back the next season like the original blooms, they dig them up and either give them away or some places sell them for a penny. They are small and will grow and will give some color.

Tulips are also considered deer candy. In other words, they love tulips, pulling them out of the ground and munching away when they are in bloom.

Daffodils and hyacinths are not eaten by these critters; in fact, they are poisonous. Therefore, if you don’t want to deal with repellants and keeping the deer out, select these.

Daffodils and hyacinths do perennialize and come back each year with consistent colors and bloom display.

I would encourage you to consider some of the minor bulbs. These are the ones that you don’t always see or see a lot of them planted in landscapes.

However, when planted in masses, minor bulbs can make quite a display.

Examples are grape hyacinths (Muscari), Crocus, squill (Scilla sp.), Anemone blanda, Iris reticulate, snowdrops (Galanthus sp.), summer snowflake (Leucojum sp.), Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa sp.), winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) and more.

These bloom anywhere from early Febvruary (winter aconite) up to and through the fall (certain varieties of allium).

When planting for spring color, plant in masses and groups as opposed to straight lines and rows. It makes a greater impact and display.

And if it gets dry again, give them a good soaking in order to encourage root development going into winter.

Pamela Corle-Bennett is the state master gardener volunteer coordinator and horticulture educator for Ohio State University Extension. Contact her by email at

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