Some things in life are just worth the wait. Take spring-blooming bulbs, for example.
In autumn, you dig a hole, gently insert a small vegetative object and cover it with soil. Then you wait. Come late winter or early spring, vibrant little beauties start poking their heads above ground, and before long you’re looking at a lavish display of pre-season blossoms–an end-of-winter announcement.
October is prime time for planting spring- and early-summer-blooming bulbs in Colorado, but you can get away with planting in early November, as well.
If you haven’t bought bulbs yet, you probably can still find some at nurseries, hardware stores and even big box stores, such as Costco. The ones from the hardware and big box stores may not be premier quality, but they’ll get you by—especially if you just want to experiment.
If you want top-quality bulbs from, say, mail-order catalogs, you’ll have to wait till late April/early May for the best selection of spring bloomers.
Why bother with bulbs? Because they extend your growing season. Some bulbs, such as crocus and winter aconite, bloom as early as February, long before most perennials start waking up in April or May.
On top of that, bulbs are cheerful, exotic and easy to grow. And they come in a massive variety of shapes, colors and sizes.
Some of my favorites are Corydalis ophiocarpa with its ferny leaves and bright yellow flower stalks; Siberian squill with its delicate, nodding blue heads; and allium with its dramatic drumstick-like demeanor. If you can’t find Corydalis ophiocarpa, you can find its darling cousins, such as C. solida or C. lutea.
Then, of course, there are ever-popular tulips and daffodils.
When planting bulbs, be sure to dig the hole two to three times as deep as the bulb’s height. So if you have a tulip bulb that’s one-inch tall, for example, make your hole two to three inches deep. Also, make sure that you insert the bulb so the pointy end faces up. Otherwise, you’ll never see blooms.
I’ll admit that bulbs aren’t the first plants that I install in a landscape. I want to get the trees, shrubs and perennials in place first. But once that’s done, I like to tuck bulbs into small openings here and there in the garden. They create such a nice surprise.
Try a few bulbs. You’ll see what I mean.