Big bulbs for spring splashes of color

By Jean Thomson


October is the right time to plant bulbs for spring-blooming beauty. While the small bulbs offer their own delicate beauty at blooming time, most gardeners also want the knockout beauty from clumps or drifts of the big bulbs ? daffodils and tulips.

For ideal results from the big bulbs, choose sites with fertile, well-drained soil. Six hours of sun will support excellent performance.

Planting depth is important for the large bulbs. Typically, the biggest bulbs are about two inches tall, and your aim should be depth of three times that height. That means planting most daffodils and tulips six inches deep.

Once the big bulbs are in the ground, cover with soil, firm it down, and water. If the fall is dry, water newly planted bulbs every 7-10 days. A good water supply helps to promote rooting.

When you shop for daffodil and tulip bulbs, look for big, firm, heavy ones. The potential for spring bloom is already in that bulb, so the best bulbs will put on the best show.

Daffodil cultivars are almost endless. While most feature shades of yellow and white, you?ll also find some pinks and some with shades of orange.

The best-known daffodils are trumpet varieties such as ?Ceylon,? ?Dutch Master,? and ?Mount Hood.? You also will be able to find doubles and split-cup varieties. While there are some exceptions, most daffodils bloom in April.

Tulips fall into several categories. Single early cultivars bloom in mid-April and are on the shorter side, up to 18 inches. Single late cultivars bloom in May and stand up to 30 inches tall. Darwins bloom from mid-April into May. These tulips feature strong stems and big blooms and range up to 26 inches. Triumph tulips are a cross of early and Darwin tulips; they bloom from April into May and stand up to 22 inches.

In every category, you?ll find an almost infinite range of colors and color blends. In addition, you can find many other types, including parrots, doubles, fringed tulips and lily-flowering tulips.

With all these choices, any gardener can find something pleasing. To bring out the full beauty from bulbs, resist any temptation to plant them in neat rows. Instead, maximize their aesthetic potential by planting in drifts or clumps.