The great thing about planting flower bulbs in Vermont is it’s fast, easy, and anyone can do it. All you need is a shovel and some flower bulbs. Whether you plant daffodils, crocuses, allium, or tulips, you will bring welcome color to your yard in the spring. And when spring comes and all those beautiful bulbs start to bloom, you will thank yourself for making the effort to plant them this fall.
You can buy bulbs just about anywhere. I recommend Gardener’s Supply in Williston, Vermont. Or you can order online. I really like the John Sheepers catalog, based out of Connecticut. I recently ordered Big Chief tulips from them, which I planted just this past Monday. For something unusual and fun, check out Allium Triquetrum and Magical Muscari Mixture, commonly known as Blue Grape Hyacinths.
When is the Best Time for Planting Flower Bulbs in Vermont?
Bulbs should be planted as soon as the ground is cool. In most parts of the country, this would be around the time of the first frosts. But you should plant at least six weeks before the ground freezes. In Vermont that means NOW!
Try to keep the labels with the bulbs until planting. Without them you can’t tell the red tulips from the white ones just by looking at the bulbs.
Select the Sites
You can plant flower bulbs just about anywhere you want as long as the soil drains well. Avoid areas where water collects, such as the bottom of hills. Bulbs also like sun. But the spring garden is very sunny since the leaves aren’t on the trees yet. So really, you can plant bulbs just about anywhere. I like planting them between hostas and other leafy perennials because those plants won’t leaf out fully until after the bulbs have gone by. Those leafy perennials will cover up the old dead brown leaves and stems of the tulips and daffs.
Dig the Hole
Prepare your location of choice by digging the soil so it’s loose and workable. Forget the special bulb hole-digging tools. They are time consuming and hard on your hands. Grab a shovel and dig a good-sized hole, at least as big as the circumference of a drywall bucket. Make it about 8″ deep for big bulbs and about 5″ deep for small bulbs. Toss in 8-12 bulbs. If you’re not digging in an established garden bed, chances are the soil could use the addition of some organic matter such as compost or peat moss.
Plant the bulb with the pointy end up. It’s that simple. No fertilizer is necessary for the first year’s bloom. For bulbs that are intended to naturalize (such as the Allium Triquetrum I mentioned above), or for bulbs that are coming into their second year, spread an organic fertilizer such as compost from Grow Compost of Vermont, well-rotted cow manure, or a slow release bulb food on TOP of the soil.
If you do fertilize, never mix fertilizer in the planting hole. It can burn the roots. Also don’t add any bone meal. Modern bone meal adds little nutritional value. It can also encourage pests and even dogs to dig up your bulbs looking for bones! Arf-arf!
Have fun planting, and enjoy your flowers next spring!