The leaves are falling, the days are getting shorter, and the temperatures are dropping, so now is the perfect time to be planting spring-blooming bulbs for an explosion of color next year, said Tim Holcomb, owner of Holcomb Garden Center in Hixson and Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.
"Take advantage of the pretty days you'll see over the next few weeks and perform the easy task of planting bulbs in your garden," Holcomb said. "The bulb industry's motto is 'dig, drop, done.' It really is about that simple to plant bulbs."
Some bulbs can be grown indoors, Holcomb said.
"For great decorating color for the holidays, plant easy-to-grow indoor bulbs like amaryllis and paper-white narcissus. Plant now, and you will be enjoying their beauty within four to six weeks. These are great ways to get children involved in gardening because they are so easy to grow. You can almost watch them grow each day."
Holcomb offers the following tips on planting bulbs.
1 Plant in full sun. Select a sunny spot in your lawn or garden, as most spring bulbs prefer lots of direct light to bloom well.
2 Prepare the soil. Though the motto is "dig, drop, done," soil conditions in the Chattanooga area can be a little less than desirable. Blend a good planting mix or soil conditioner into the top 6 inches of soil. This will allow fast rooting of the bulbs and excellent drainage so they will not rot over the winter.
3 Be selective. First and foremost, don't skimp on size. The bigger the bulb, the bigger the bloom. Holcomb recommends choosing tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and/or crocus. All of these bulbs grow well in our area and come in a variety of colors. Always plant clusters of at least six or more bulbs for a greater show of color next spring.
4 Plant pansies over the top of your freshly planted bulbs. Your pansies will bloom all winter. Just when you think they couldn't be any prettier, your bulbs will burst through them with an explosion of color proclaiming spring has arrived.
5 Feed your bulbs. While it's true that the bulbs have stored energy in them, that energy is soon used up once they start growing. Adding Dutch Bulb Food will encourage the best growth and blooms possible. You also can feed your pansies and bulbs with Fertilome Pansy Food.