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Use big bulbs, winter’s cold temps for lush spring plants

By Gregg Eyestone

It is not too early to be thinking about spring. Daffodils, tulips, crocus, hyacinths and other spring blooming plants need to be planted this fall.

They need to have a cold treatment to initiate blooming. Nature provides this by having a winter season.

These flowers can be forced to bloom by putting them in the refrigerator for 12 to 16 weeks for use indoors.

This past weekend, Riley County Extension Master Gardeners gave away 1,000 daffodils to be planted in Riley County. Daffodils are good at coming back year after year. The variety ‘Hawera’ was selected which has a pale canary-yellow bloom.

Bigger is best when it comes to selecting bulbs to use. The bigger the bulb, the bigger your flower will be this season. That doesn’t mean you have to buy only the largest bulbs.

Smaller bulbs will be less costly, but less showy this season.

All bulbs should be firm and free from blemishes, cuts, molds or soft spots. They should feel heavy for their size, not light and dried up.

Spring blooming flowers need a well-drained soil. When the soil stays wet for a long period of time, they will rot.

The addition of organic matter such as compost, humus, aged manures or hay will improve all soil types. Add as much as you can and work it in evenly and deeply to your soil.

The amount of sunlight will determine how quickly the soil will dry. For most, full sun is best. Light is required for food production for the plant. As light diminishes, less food is produced for storage in the bulb.

Planting depth is based on soil and plant species. Heavy clays need a shallower planting to prevent rot.

Most are planted at a depth that is equal to three times their diameter. Depth is measured to the bottom of the hole and not from the top of the bulb. Plant the bulb with the pointed end up.

I have put together some information on planting these flowers. Anyone can stop by the office and get a copy or it is available on our website at

You can find out more information on this and other horticulture topics by going to the K-State Research and Extension website at

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