Tag Archives: Bulbs

Be a Smarty Plants

Recently I asked my friends on Facebook what their word of advice would be for someone new to gardening and just starting out. Many offered some well rooted advice to mulch or water or be open to change. Having a vision, a good foundation of organic soil and to start small were other popular words of well grounded wisdom. One of my Facebook friends suggested that frozen berries in wine was a good pain reliever. Another suggested buying Motrin along with a lot of plants. Those who had thrown in the “trowel” suggested the new gardener give up before their backs and hips, have a drink and hire someone to do it for them. I liked the fact some felt variety was important and that gardening is good therapy.
In the spirit of turnabout is fair play, I asked myself the question. If left with suggesting one thing, I would recommend that a “smarty plants” invests time in their garden in September and October. Along with great deals on plants, the fall climate is perfect for plant establishment. In fall the soil cools down after a hot summer but is still warm and rainfall is more plentiful. Plants put in the ground focus on root establishment instead of top growth. Plants put in the ground in fall are well rooted and take off quicker in spring. This applies to woody landscape plants, trees, perennials, bulbs and even annuals like pansies. Frost tolerant pansies provide color in fall and then overwinter under the snow to outperform spring planted pansies the following spring.

These Pansies are waking up in spring after their winter nap. We're beautiful in the fall and now doing it again!

These Pansies are waking up in spring after their winter nap. We’re beautiful in the fall and now doing it again!

The weather in fall is enjoyable for yard work, even mundane work such as the lawn. Feeding your lawn in fall is important to develop a thick well rooted lawn. Grass seed grows well in the fall for patching or starting a new lawn, September is arguably the best month of the year to start a lawn in Michigan. And when it comes to weeds, well “weed” need to talk. Perennial weeds send their food reserves to the roots in fall just like the trees. If you apply weed killer you’re getting good translocation of the herbicide into the roots instead of just top kill. Also many annual weeds like Henbit germinate in the fall to become rampant and blooming in the spring. Fall applications of weed control keep these weeds from becoming a problem in spring.
If you “plant”-asize about gorgeous flowers in spring, September is the perfect month to plant flowering bulbs. It can be as easy as dig, drop, done. Bulb selections go way beyond tulips with many of the “minor bulbs” like Scilla, Fritillaria and Alliums or Dutch Iris to name a few. Planted in a well drained soil these miracle orbs will pop up and surprise you next spring.

These fall planted Pansies are reblooming in spring with the Pink Tulips that were planted at the same time.

These fall planted Pansies are reblooming in spring with the Pink Tulips that were planted at the same time.

September planted Mums provide brilliant fall color. Mum-Ma-Mia! Hardy Mums and Asters can be displayed in pots for fall color and then if planted in the ground before winter with a light mulch covering should come back next year.
Be a “smarty plants” and make a date with your yard and garden this September.

Dig Drop Done

I love planting flower bulbs in fall. Maybe it’s my Dutch-European heritage or maybe it’s because planting bulbs is as easy as Dig, Drop, Done. I am amazed every spring by the number of people who call my radio show to confess they never planted the bulbs they bought on impulse the previous fall. Many people will be inspired to make a purchase of Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinths, Iris, Crocus, Alliums or other spring flowering bulb only to leave them in the trunk, garage, basement or under the seat of the car. I have often bought bulbs and used a pick axe in December to get them in the ground. Why do we procrastinate when such amazing beauty and satisfaction awaits us just a few months away? Investing in your “hortfolio” now will bring brighter days after the dark cold months of winter.

A new bulb marketing campaign is promoting promoting bulbs to ladies trying to attract a new generation of women. The campaign promotes the “surprisingly simple beauty” of bulbs and how they fit into our busy everyday lives. The theme is planting flower bulbs is as simple as Dig, Drop, Done. At the website you’ll meet the ladies: Marcy the Super Mom, Julianna the Fashionista and Evelyn the Empty Nester…….   http://www.digdropdone.com/

I believe planting bulbs can be as easy as dig, drop, done if you apply these simple rules. 1) Dig deep enough. The deeper you plant the more years enjoyment you’ll get from your investment. If the recommendation is to plant 6 inches deep, plant them 8 to 12 inches. 2) Bulbs don’t like wet feet. Well drained soil is best, work in some organic matter to improve the makeup of the soil. 4) When you “drop” the bulbs drop in some bulb fertilizer at the same time. 5) If you have lots of hungry scavengers (squirrels, voles, chipmunks) in your yard, some chicken wire folded over the bulbs when planting will keep them from making your investment a tasty snack. 6) If you have a lot of deer and rabbit pressure in your neighborhood consider leaning toward bulbs like Allium, Fritillaria, Daffodils and Dutch Iris.

So whether you’re into football or the latest season of Dancing with the Stars this fall, take a commercial break for some “dig, drop, done”……you’ll be glad you did next spring!

Dutch Treat

Early May in West Michigan………you don’t have to be Dutch to enjoy these beauties…….take a moment today to do two things………1) Stop and smell the flowers………and 2) Walk over to your calendar and pencil in sometime in September or October that this year you’re going to plant some spring flowering beauties on your side of the fence…………

Yellow Flowering Tulips

Tulip Time

Daffodils May 8, 2011 West Michigan