The Q&A Archives: When can I plant bulbs in High Point, NC?

Question: I'd like to plant some bulbs for spring bloom. Any suggestions of what to plant in my zone? I've never done bulbs before...and I want to ensure success. Should I plant a lot of them in a row, like 3 or 4 deep? I want to plant them along the front ? border of my newly landscaped, mulched area, where they will be forefront and under the Cherokee Dogwoods (that I plan to plant this fall). Also, when is the best time to plant the dogwoods? I'm doing three in three mulched areas so they will grow to provide a canopy in the middle of the trio of trees in the middle of my front yard. Thanks!

Answer: There are many bulbs that will do fine in your area. As a rule bulbs should be planted in full sun and in a location that is well drained. Your local nursery should offer a wide selection along with planting instructions. The time to plant is once the soil has cooled off a bit, typically mid to late October.

How you plant them is a matter of personal taste. If you have a formal look, plant them in soldier-style rows. If you like a more natural look, plant them in drifts or clusters of odd numbers with slightly irregular spacing. Five to seven together makes a nice group of daffodils or tulips for example. Crocus and other minor bulbs need ot be planted in quantity to make a visual impact from a distance but just a handfull planted next to a walk or mailbox can be very welcome sight when you see them daily and up close.

Keep in mind there will be foliage after the blooms. The foliage must be allowed to grow and then wither and turn brown to replenish the bulbs so they can bloom again the following year. This can be ugly when viewed close up. So you need to decide how you will camouflage or hide that.

The current set of regional reports at the National Gardening Association web site covers how to integrate bulbs into the landscape. You can click on the national map and read as many regions as you'd like. Here is the link

Dogwoods tend to do better if planted in the spring, however container grown plants can be planted any time the ground is workable. Mulch lightly over their root area with an organic mulch and keep the soil slightly damp (like a wrung out sponge) unless it is frozen. Dogwoods are shallow rooted so it is better to leave the area under them mulched or possibly with a simple groundcover planting such as Vinca minor. You would not want to be digging beneath them to plant bulbs or annual flowers for example as this would disturb their delicate roots. You also need to be careful to protect their trunks from accidental damage such as from a weedwhacker or mower and avoid pruning them -- any wound is an invitation to insect pests and disease.

Good luck with your planting!

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