Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
March, 2008
Regional Report

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There's nothing like daffodils to bring on spring!

Daffodils are Coming!

I took advantage of a warm day last weekend to clear the debris from my new perennial bed. I couldn't stand it any longer, I just had to see what was coming up. The bulbs are peeking through!

There's not much to do in the garden right now, so I've collected labels for bulbs I want to move around this year. Many stands of my daffodils are now nestled in the shade as my landscape has grown and I'd like to bring them out into sunny beds.

Moving Bulbs
The usual recommendation for lifting bulbs is to wait until the foliage dies completely, usually late June, and then hang them in mesh bags in the garage for fall planting. Some gardeners have luck digging the bulbs right after the flowers have faded and replanting them immediately. The bulbs are still in very active growth at this time, so it is a risk to transplant them. So, I'll label the ones I want to move and be patient.

Hide Bulb Foliage
I make every effort to place my bulbs in spots where the dying foliage is hidden by emerging perennials or newly planted annuals. If the foliage is visible, it's very hard to keep from yanking the ugly leaves when they are spoiling the look of a bed, even though I know I must leave them to replenish the bulb. If the foliage is hidden from view, there's not as much of a temptation to pull it too early.

Order Bulbs in Early Summer
The bulb catalogs will begin arriving in late spring, so while the beautiful blooms are still fresh on your mind, put your order in early. You can certainly wait until fall and purchase a variety of hybrid tulips, daffodils, and crocuses in local garden stores, but unusual bulbs usually need to be ordered.

Small Bulbs for Big Impact
The first bulbs to emerge are the winter aconites and snowdrops. There's nothing quite like the fresh green and white of snowdrops when there's still snow on the ground to set the gardening spirits soaring. Smaller bulbs like pushkinia, hardy cyclamen, and chionodoxa give the bulb display added color from March through June. Botanical tulips, smaller and shorter than the traditional Darwin hybrids, come up extra early, as well. Their great advantage is that they do not exhaust themselves after one or two years as the hybrid tulips tend to do. They can be planted and left alone for many years where they will multiply.

Bulb Care
When adding bulbs to your display, keep in mind that they need plenty of sun and well-drained soil in order to produce healthy blooms. To keep them blooming year after year, give them a boost by side-dressing the plants with a garden fertilizer such as 10-10-10, compost, or composted manure right after the blossoms have faded.

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