It is not too early to be thinking about spring. Daffodils, tulips, crocus, hyacinths, alliums 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.
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 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.
Bulbs can be planted now and until the ground freezes. Water the bulbs in to get them growing and that is likely all that is needed if you get them planted in October. Later planting will benefit from a layer of mulch to moderate the soil temperature after watering them.
You can find out more information on this and other horticulture topics by going to the K-State Research and Extension website at www.ksre.ksu.edu. You contact Gregg Eyestone at the Riley County office of K-State Research and Extension. Gregg also may be contacted by calling 537-6350, stopping by 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.