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                                                      Regional November

How to Make Your Bulbs Light Up
By Amanda Whatley Owen
web posted November 27, 2017
GARDENING It's time to think about bulbs.  No, not Christmas lights, but rather, the plant variety that's going to make our yards light up with beautiful colors this spring and summer.  Now is the right time to start planting those bulbs so that they can get that six to eight week chill period.

Bulbs can add a vibrant look to any garden and the best part is, with a little care, they can come back year after year. There are many different ways to display bulbs in your garden.  They can be among other plants in your landscape, or in "bulb only" beds.  They are considered great fillers if you need some empty spaces filled within your garden.

One of my favorite ways to grow them is in planters where I use them in outdoor planter arrangements.  As you can see, there are many different ways that bulbs can enhance your garden area, and with so many varieties and types, varying in color and height, the possibilities are seemingly endless.

Right now, tulips, daffodils, and crocus are the most popular bulbs to plant.  Many people plant these 6 inches into the ground in a sunny location.  In well draining soil, folks will put five or more bulbs within a hands width.  You should consider adding a handful of blood meal to your bulb holes before covering them up  This will give them an extra dose of nitrogen to help push their blooms.

If you'd like to get the spring color jump on those that plant their bulbs outside, you can plant your bulbs indoors!  Growing bulbs indoors can be a bit of a task, but well worth it. You will need a breathable pot, such as a nice clay pot.  Mix half compost and half peat moss with a few handfuls of sand (for extra drainage).  When you plant your bulbs in containers for the indoors, keep the soil moist but not soggy.  Soggy soil can cause a rotted bulb.

Set your potted bulbs in a sunny window for about eight weeks.  This will help your bulbs develop a strong root system.  Once the bulb has built up it's root system, put the potted bulbs in a cool, dark room for another six weeks.  Doing this will make sure your bulbs do not bust out until early spring.  Then, in order not too stress our bulbs out, we will return them to a dimly lit area for four more weeks, and then back to the sunny window until time to bloom. This puts your bulbs a few weeks ahead of the outdoor gardeners, but will not push the blooms out too early in the season. 

After the blooms have come and gone, and warmer temperatures have arrived, many folks dig up bulbs and place them in the refrigerator until late next fall. Water-loving caladium bulbs have sunny and shade versions, but like to be dug out during the winter and placed in a dry, cool area.
Other bulb favorites in our region are, canna lilies, hostas, and daylilies.  Due to this group's ability to handle heat with little water, and the fact that these multiply aggressively, they are an ideal candidate for Southern summers, lasting all summer long.  These species do not require digging out at all. 

Next week;  One of our readers suggested that we pass along some tips for our indoor plants.  What a wonderful idea!  Check back with us next week as we explore some helpful tips for our little green co-inhabitants.

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