Bulbs Get Spring Fever Too
According to a Zen proverb-Sitting quietly, doing nothing, Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself. That fact is hard to swallow for those of us with Spring Fever. We are not alone with this feeling. Flowers get spring fever too.
I think bulbs get spring fever worst. Those little green spikes are like fingers searching for a way out of their blanket of snow. Spring bulbs throw caution to the wind and send shoots out as early as January.
Galanthus nivalis, better known as Common Snowdrops are often the first to emerge. These tiny white flowers stand about 4-inches high and usually bloom by mid-February.
Like most herbaceous perennial bulbs, snowdrops prefer sun to part shade and moist but not wet soil.
Other early bloomers welcoming spring are winter aconite, glory-of-the-snow, crocus, and Siberian squill.
Eranthis hyemalis or winter aconite produces yellow buttercup-like flowers and prefers summer shade. This is another low-growing plant suitable for beds or established groundcovers.
Chionodoxa or glory-of-the-snow show off pink, blue or white star-shaped flowers. These 3 to 6-inch plants fit into any landscape design.
Cheerfulness and joy are the translation of the word “Crocus”. Most of us are familiar with this spring flower, which comes in white, yellow, purple and variegations of these colors. Crocus is not true bulbs, but actually corms which die-off each season and produce new plants from nodes formed on the outside of the corm. These flowers are one of the first food sources for awakening honeybees.
Scilla Siberia, or Siberian squill have deep-blue flowers that contrast nicely with the whiteness of snow or shades of brown earth in your garden.
All these bulbs are great for naturalizing, rock gardens, planting under trees and along borders.
Although you actually need to wait until autumn to plant spring bulbs, now is the time to plan where to place them in your garden. All these bulbs are classified as “minor” bulbs, along with Muscari and Bluebells which both bloom later in spring. Minor bulbs can be layered a few inches above your major bulbs like daffodils, tulips or iris to save space and encourage continual blooms.
Here are some other tips to help you get the most out of your minor spring bulbs.
• Not sure which end is up on these tiny bulbs? Plant the bulb on its side, nature will take care of the growth direction.
• If your soil is dense, plant your bulbs slightly higher than recommended depths for well-drained soil.
• Fertilize your bulbs at planting time with a mix designed for bulbs. This will help the roots develop before cold weather arrives.
• Mulch your bulbs after planting for protection and to discourage early growth.
• Discourage squirrels and other nibblers by planting minor bulbs with daffodils. Most animals don’t like the daffodil taste. Chicken wire can also be spread over your plantings for added protection. Remember to remove the wire as soon as growth appears.
I’d like to be more like spring bulbs and not afraid to venture out despite the cold and snow. But for now, I’ll just have to be content looking out my window to admire those brave garden souls.
Fact sheets from University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ohio State University Extension, Colorado State University, University of Georgia and Penn State University.