The Lily (Lillium) is a hearty bulb that can be planted in fall or spring. In the whole lily spectrum, there is something for everyone, from easy-to-grow, long-lived garden plants to the more difficult and rare species. Their summer blooms are the highlight of the garden, and they are long-lasting as cut flowers. Most lilies bloom between June and August, and the large, trumpet shaped flowers feature a variety of colors and designs. They do well in a bed or border with other perennials, or they can stand alone. Shorter varieties can be planted in containers.
Hyacinths are noted for their long lasting blooms and outstanding fragrance. These qualities make them a top choice for forcing, as well as an attractive addition to the flower bed. Blooms will remain in top condition for two to three weeks.
These stiff, upright plants are better planted in clumps rather than in straight rows. They grow 8 to 12 inches tall, with the double varieties being slightly smaller. They come in a wide variety of colors, and the stems are nearly all blooms. Hyacinthus make great houseplants and are easy to force into bloom.
When choosing bulbs for your garden, remember that larger bulbs produce larger blooms. In the second year, the bulbs will split creating smaller bulbs and smaller blooms. You can replant with new bulbs every year to maintain top quality blooms, but I like to supplement the hyacinths with showy annuals in their off years.
After the bloom fades, you may trim the stems. You will want to leave the foliage until yellow to provide nutrients for next year’s bulbs.
Daffodil bulbs are planted in the late fall. Use a trowel to dig a hole 2 inches deeper than the size of the bulb. Take care to plant the bulb top up and cover with at least 2 inches of prepared soil. Once all bulbs have been planted, water the area thoroughly to remove any air pockets remaining in the soil around the bulbs.
Daffodils need water every week during their growing season. Water, if needed, to provide approximately 1 inch of moisture weekly. Apply mulch around the plants to preserve moisture. After blooming, cut the foliage back when the leaves begin to yellow. Dig up the bulbs in early summer, wash and let dry thoroughly. Store the bulbs in burlap or potato sacks in a well ventilated area until time to plant in the fall. Alternately, the bulbs can be left in the ground and dug up for dividing every 5 years. This method may produce fewer flowers, but is also less work for the gardener.
Tulips Plant the bulbs in mid- to late fall for blooms in spring. Set the bulbs in the ground with the flat or root side down. They should be planted 4-5 inches deep, or 8 inches deep for taller varieties. If rodents are a problem, try planting them up to 3 inches deeper, but expect the shoots to take a little longer to appear. Space tulips about 6 inches apart. Rich soil, well amended with compost and containing enough sand for good drainage is required. This good soil should be available well below the bulb so that the extending roots will find good drainage and adequate nourishment. Avoid fresh or only partly decomposed manure. Bone meal scattered at the rate of one cup per square yard is a good source of nourishment. Side dress when shoots are 1 to 2 inches tall.