A Beginner’s Guide to Choosing Flower Bulbs

By Steve Asbell on 11 Feb 2016 via Zillow

Daydreaming about planting your summer garden? Selecting the right bulbs now is the first step.

With all the choices in catalogs and on websites, ordering bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers can seem a bit daunting. You have to pay attention to the planting time, height, bulb size, and bloom time, not to mention how they’ll be used in your garden. But don’t be discouraged. Use this short guide to simplify your shopping experience and maximize your yard’s potential.

When to order

Plant daylily bulbs now to see explosions of color in your garden this summer.

It’s winter and you’re itching to order those daffodils and crocuses. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’ll have to wait until fall to plant those so they’ll receive the chilling hours they need and can become established over winter. You might get a fizzle of flowers if you plant them too late, but the plants will probably fizzle out, too.

Now is really the time to order summer-blooming bulbs like Agapanthus, gingers, caladiums, and daylilies. Because many summer-blooming bulbs hail from the subtropics and are tender to frosts and freezes, they will likely ship after the last-frost date.

Order and plant fall-blooming bulbs in late summer so they’ll emerge from summer dormancy and bloom in a few weeks. You can place your bulb order now, and they’ll usually ship as soon as it’s appropriate.

What to order

Consider these factors when choosing bulbs to order.

  • Timing. Rather than just ordering what looks good at the time, brainstorm for ways to get the biggest bang for your buck. Choose bulbs with different bloom times so you get a procession of color through the season, or even all year.
  • Height. Have you ever had to stand behind someone tall in a group photo? Well, that’s what happens if you inadvertently plant short blooms behind taller ones. Pay close attention to the heights of each bulb you order, and make a note of those heights when you plant.
  • Color. You don’t need a degree in color theory to design a coordinated flowerbed, but it helps to keep it simple. Work with your home or garden’s existing color scheme, or have a little fun by adding a new color to the mix. After all, even if the colors clash, the offending blooms won’t last long, and you can always plant them elsewhere later.
  • Drainage. Choose bulbs that are appropriate to your garden and your region. Most bulbs don’t like wet, poorly draining soil, but if you don’t have a free-draining spot, grow moisture-loving bulbs like Louisiana irises and Hedychium gingers.
  • Light. Most bulbs like plenty of sun, and they’re good for massed plantings in unmown fields or for naturalizing under deciduous trees where they still receive plenty of light from winter through blooming. Shade-loving bulbs such as toad lilies, squills, snowdrops and gingers are the perfect match for the space beneath shade trees where nothing else seems to grow.
  • Temperature. Since most spring-blooming bulbs require plenty of chilling hours, gardeners in Zones 8-11 should only grow bulbs that have either low-chill requirements or hail from subtropical or Mediterranean climates. Otherwise they can be a disappointing experience.
  • Type. Variety may be the spice of life, but avoid the mistake of ordering a “box of chocolates.” In other words, rather than picking one of each bulb, plant many bulbs of only a few types, and use them to create natural-looking drifts and clumps. Don’t line up a bunch of different bulbs like soldiers in your flower beds.
  • Size. Bulbs are graded by size. Large bulbs bloom best, so plant these where you need impact sooner as opposed to later. However, big bulbs are also pricy. Smaller bulbs are more economical, not only for their price, but because they multiply and become established over time. Plant small bulbs if you plan on naturalizing them or leaving them in the same place. Medium-sized bulbs offer the best of both worlds.

Where to shop

A box of diseased and dying bulbs can spell disaster, so it really pays to choose a reputable dealer. Brent and Becky’s, Plant Delights and Annie’s Annuals are only a few of the good vendors out there.

Pay close attention to customer reviews and ratings before making a purchase. If you’re buying bulbs in a store, avoid any dried out, mushy or damaged bulbs.

Inspecting your purchase

Inspect your bulbs as soon as they arrive, and plant as soon as it’s appropriate. Healthy bulbs should feel firm and heavy, and show no damage.

If you receive anything mushy, smelly, dried out or otherwise questionable, contact the vendor immediately and request replacements.

Get Ready to Grow: 6 Tips for Planning Your Spring Garden

By Steve Asbell on 27 Feb 2017 via Zillow

Keep that spring fever momentum all year long with these gardening tips.

Spring fever got you dreaming of lush gardens and sunshine? Despite what you might see on TV, beautiful landscapes don’t happen overnight. Weeds will invade your beds and need to be pulled. The mulch will break down and require replacing. And your attention span will no doubt move on to shinier things long enough for your garden to fall into disrepair.

Your spring fever may be temporary, but if you get to know your garden’s unique conditions and choose the right plants, you’ll ensure that both the garden — and your enthusiasm for it — will last for a lifetime.

Invest in your soil

To get the dirt on your dirt, perform a soil test with your local agricultural extension office. This will tell you everything you need to know about what will grow there and how to improve it.

In the meantime, amend your soil with as much organic matter as possible — either by starting a compost pile or by adding bags of composted manure. This will give it a better texture, a diverse population of beneficial organisms, and more fertility.

If your soil is poorly drained, either grow plants that tolerate wet feet, or install a dry creek bed or French drain to prevent standing water.

Ditch the trash trees

With any luck, the trees that you plant today will be there for a long, long time. Keeping that in mind, don’t grow things that you’ll regret one day — like a messy silver maple that drops seeds all over the lawn, or a cypress that will eventually dwarf your house.

When choosing a tree or shrub for your garden, consider the eventual size, form, and habit. Avoid planting anything that has weak limbs or is susceptible to pests and blights, because tree removal is a costly and unnecessary expense.

Understand your garden’s sunlight

Those little “full sun” and “part shade” icons are on the plant tag for a reason — too much sunlight will burn the foliage and compromise the plant’s health, while too little will make it lanky and weak.

Choose plants that thrive in your conditions. A spot that receives eight or more hours of direct sunlight is a perfect place to grow vegetables, fruit trees, and most flowers. Part to full shade is ideal for growing plants like perennials, ferns, and small trees that are naturally found in the forest’s understory.

If you have a shady yard but can’t live without roses and tomatoes, consider hiring a professional arborist to remove trees or large limbs to get more sunlight.

Purchase plants with confidence

If it seems like everything you grow dies sooner or later, stop buying unhealthy plants. Inspect the foliage at the garden center and slip the plant out of its pot to check for firm, white, and healthy roots. The best place to buy healthy plants is at a local garden center, but otherwise, purchase them shortly after they’ve arrived on a shipment.

If you can’t find the plant you’re looking for, order seeds, bulbs, and plants online from reputable sellers like Burpee Seeds and Plants, Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, and Plant Delights Nursery.

Plant for all four seasons

It’s tempting to do all your plant shopping in spring, but those pretty blooms will soon fade away. To avoid 11 months of boredom, choose a variety of plants that offer interest at different times of the year.

Grow summer-blooming plants like canna, coneflowers, and guara to keep the show going until fall, when colorful foliage and fall bloomers like mums and goldenrod take over.

For winter interest, look to trees with interesting branch patterns and bark, as well as unusual cultivars of evergreens — like heuchera and abelia — or even architectural, hardy palms and succulents.

Divide and conquer

Here’s a huge money-saving trick: Choose a perennial, bulb, or ornamental grass that can be propagated by division — one that you’d love to see growing all over your garden in a few years.

Plant several copies of that plant in your garden. After a couple of years, divide the plants by digging them up and slicing through the middle with a sharp spade. For best results, do this in spring when the weather is cool and the plant is actively growing.

Plant the divisions in the ground again, cover the space between the plants with mulch, and water them thoroughly to help them establish. Repeat these steps every two years, and you’ll have not only a ton of free plants, but also a garden that looks cohesive and established.

Spring is a season of boundless energy and renewal — make sure to channel that springtime energy while you have it and turn it into a garden you’ll enjoy all year long!

Spring Forward……8 things to do when it is Daylight Savings time.

Daylight Savings is on March 12, 2017 at 2:00 a.m. Be sure to set your clocks before you go to bed Saturday night. It is also a good time to do the following items:

  • Reverse the direction on your ceiling fan.  In the Spring, fan blades should rotate counter-clockwise to help cool down the rooms.  In the Fall, switch the direction to clockwise which helps pull down the warm air that gets trapped near the ceiling.  Both of these measures help save cost on heating and cooling.
  • Flip and rotate your mattress to help promote even wear and tear.  Unless you have a no flip mattress.  Then just rotate it.
  • Replace the filters in your heater and air conditioner. This should actually be done several times a year to ensure they run as efficiently as possible.
  • Go through your medicine cabinet and first aid kit, discard any expired or discolored products.  In addition dispose of any prescription medication that has expired or no longer needed.  You can search on FDA.gov for how to safely dispose of medications.
  • Go through your pantry and dispose of any expired or stale/opened foods.
  • Daylight Savings Time is also a good time to start rotating your wardrobe.  Wash your winter clothes and inspect them for damage and wear and tear.  If you have clothes you know longer wear put them aside either for a garage sale or donate them.  Finally, pack away clothes for winter and start washing and inspecting your Spring and Summer wardrobe.
  • Check Car Fluids, it is a good time to replenish fluids like window washer fluid, anti- freeze etc.
  • Set new 6 month goals.

Happy Spring!!!!