Fall Bulbs for Spring Flowers

In Central Oregon, late September and October are the ideal time to plant bulbs for spectacular show stoppers in the spring.  Daffodils, Crocus, Hyacinth, Iris, Allium and Tulips are some of our favorites. Here are some tips to get these easy to care for beauties in your yard:

  1. When purchasing the bulbs there are few things to look for. The bulbs should be firm.  Soft spots, bruises and mold are indicators of inferior products.  Bigger bulbs generally produce more blossoms that smaller bulbs of the same variety.
  2. Right plant in the right place.  Even the highest quality bulbs will fail if they are planted in the wrong location.  Most bulbs prefer at least 6 hours of sun per day.  Select bulbs that are well suited to the location you want to place them.  Read the package or product description carefully to determine their cultural needs. 
  3. The planting depth of each type can vary significantly.  A rule of thumb is to plant the bulb 2-3 times deeper than the bulb is tall.  A 1” tall bulb should be planted 2”-3” deep. The required planting depth will also be indicated on the package.
  4. The pointed end should be up.  Look closely at the bulbs and you’ll notice that the roots come out of the wide end.
  5. Bulbs prefer good soil.  The silty and sandy soils in Central Oregon should be amended with compost to provide nutrients for the bulbs. Adding a bit of bone meal to the bottom of the hole helps to stimulate root growth.
  6. Stop weeds!  Not only are they unsightly, they steal nutrients from your desired plants.  Adding 2”-3” of mulch is effective in weed prevention and holding moisture.
  7. Water in the bulbs after planting.  This settles the soil and encourages root growth.  If the bulbs dry out, their performance will be stunted.
  8. Consider the critters in your area.  Deer are notorious for eating Tulips.  Plant tulips in locations that will be uncomfortable or awkward for the deer. Or consider a different bulb that is less appealing to the deer like Daffodil.  If there are squirrels around, they may try to steal your freshly planted bulbs.  Chicken wire installed over the top of bulbs and then covered with the appropriate amount of soil and mulch can detour the squirrels.
  9. Mass plantings have a big impact.  Large quantities planted in concentrated areas will impress you and passer-bys.
  10. Consider the bloom time.  For example, daffodils are labeled as early, mid or late spring bloomers.  By mixing varieties from each of these bloom times you can extend the blossoms over several weeks.