Fall is the perfect time of year to get your garden ready to enjoy next spring. It’s the time to add perennials, groundcovers and shrubs as they will establish from the rains and not necessarily require supplemental water from irrigation systems. It is also the time to plant bulbs that will pop up after you’ve forgotten about them come spring time. The flowering spring time show you will get from your bulbs will be well worth the early effort, however, you have to plant you bulbs before winter to ensure this gorgeous show happens.
You will need to select locations in your garden that get adequate sunlight and have good drainage. Bulbs will not thrive in areas of poor drainage. If you have clay soil, like many areas in the bay area, be sure to loosen the soil at least a foot deeper than the recommended planting depth (typically you loosen the soil 2” – 3” below the planting depth in well draining soil) and amend soil with peat moss to help with drainage. Don’t forget to plant the bulb pointy end up with about 3” – 4” top soil covering the tops. When selecting your bulbs from a nursery be sure to hand pick bulbs without soft spots or mold, or order from a vendor like Van Engelen Inc, who can send high quality bulbs to your residence.
When ordering your bulbs a good rule of thumb to follow is 4 large bulbs per square foot, or 9 small bulbs per square foot. It may seem like a lot per square foot in your garden, but it will not disappoint. Also, take into consideration that some bulbs, like tulips, require refrigeration chilling for 6 weeks before they can be planted in the ground.
In milder climates like areas within the san francisco bay area we are lucky that some bulbs we plant “perennialize” and we don’t have to plant them every year, like in other parts of the country. The daffodil is one of the most popular planted bulb in the bay area. It typically returns each springtime in our gardens and is also deer proof. A showy plant that is deer proof in this area is hard to come by, so plant your bulbs this fall and enjoy them come spring!