My gosh, it’s November already! Perhaps you have a bulb order sitting in your basement that arrived weeks ago or you’re eyeing those sale notices coming from online bulb sellers and wondering if it’s too late to plant bulbs. Have no fear; you still have time!
This is a marvelous time to take advantage of deep discounts on remaining bulbs. Ordering from reputable online bulb sellers is a good way to go as the bulbs haven’t been sitting out in bins in heated big box stores or even garden centers. They’ve been kept chilled, just waiting to be packed in a box and shipped out. (You can also have more confidence that you are actually getting the bulb varieties you want – bulbs tend to hop around in those open bins.) Any bulb order you place now will likely come very quickly, and you should make time within a few days of receiving them to plant them. Yes, you still have time, but not that much time, so don’t delay.
Our western gardens tend to have frequent freeze thaw cycles with minimal snow cover, so plant bulbs a bit more deeply than you might in other areas of the country. Small bulbs like crocus can be planted relatively shallowly (the squirrels will thank you), but tulips and daffodils should be planted approximately 8″ to 10″ deep. And speaking of those squirrels (and gophers), if you have trouble with them digging up bulbs, consider spraying them (the bulbs, not the squirrels) with a repellant or dumping a good dose of cayenne pepper on top of the bulb in the hole. If you’re really serious, you can find wire cages that are meant to be buried with the bulbs inside. This can get quite pricey though.
Bulbs require fertilizer and watering in order to thrive. So when planting, mix a bit of a balanced slow-release fertilizer in the soil at the bottom of the planting hole. Once your bulbs are all tucked underground, give them a good drink and put a layer of mulch over them. The mulch should help keep them moist and minimize the freezing and thawing cycles. If it’s a dry winter (and isn’t it nearly always a dry winter?), winter water your bulbs every three-to-four weeks.
If you want to read more about planting bulbs in our area, you can find more information than you’ll know what to do with on bulbs at CSU Extension’s Online Yard and Garden Publications: http://cmg.colostate.edu/pubs
Contributed by Carey Harrington, Certified Colorado Gardener
(Carey also blogs at http://careymoonbeam.wordpress.com)