Spring flowering bulbs such as crocus, daffodils, and tulips require a cold period during the winter in order to flower. These bulbs are planted and develop their root system in the fall and bloom during the spring. The variety of bloom color, plant height, shape, and timing of flowering provides seasonal interest in the spring for many Kentucky gardens and landscapes.
Select good quality bulbs for planting. Healthy bulbs will feel heavy to indicate that it is packed with moisture and ready to grow. Pick up a few bulbs in hand to test for heaviness, and avoid the bulbs that feel light.
Next, prepare the soil for planting. The optimum pH range for bulbs is between 6 and 7. A soil test should be performed to see if any lime needs to be applied. Good soil drainage
is key to successful bulb production. For soils with a high clay content, incorporate organic matter into the top 12 inches of soil. Rototill or cultivate the ground and remove any noticeable weeds.
Thoroughly loosen the soil at the bottom of the planting hole and mix in one handful of bone meal per square foot before planting bulbs. Plant spring flowering bulbs between October 15th and Thanksgiving. For small sized bulbs, about 1 inch in size, plant 5 inches
deep and 1 to 4 inches apart. For large bulbs, about 2 inches or more, plant 8 inches deep and 4 to 8 inches apart.
Make sure to place bulbs upright in the hole with the pointed part facing up. Cover the bulbs with half of the soil that was removed from the planting hole and water the bulbs before adding the remaining soil. Fertilize the soil surface with 10-10-10 at a rate of 3 to 4 pounds per 100 square feet. Lastly, place 2 to 3 inches of mulch over the bed and water it in thoroughly.
Submitted by Kristin Hildabrand, Extension Horticulture Agent, Warren County, University of Kentucky