Planting bulbs: Check out these tips so your flowers blossom next spring

Kath Smyth with the Calgary Horticultural Society says it's the perfect time to start planting bulbs in your garden, and for those who haven't planted them before, she offers some tips.

There's even a trick that keeps away squirrels!

Bulbs can be a bit tricky, so follow these tips to ensure your garden is blooming come spring. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

During the pandemic, lots of Calgarians picked up new hobbies to stay busy — one of the most popular being gardening.

And with fall officially arriving Tuesday, now is the time to start planning for next year. 

Kath Smyth with the Calgary Horticultural Society told the Calgary Eyeopener it's the perfect time to begin planting bulbs in your garden, and for those who haven't planted them before, she offers the following tips:

Kath Smyth of the Calgary Horticultural Society says gardeners are 'dreamers,' so planning your bulbs ahead of time provides something to look forward to. (Harington Telford)

Start digging!

Smyth says that for tulips she recommends placing the bulbs six inches deep in the soil, if not more.

"The bigger the bulb, the deeper you go, and part of the reason is that if we have early chinooking … they're starting to fight themselves to come up, so you want to bury them as deep as you can with the bigger ones."

Mulch and soil

Smyth says that after she buries the bulbs, she'll mulch fairly well with the leaves on the ground.

"The soil should have some new compost added to it, and if you've got a few annuals in there, they should be cleared away a bit," she said. 

"But what I like to do where there's established perennials, I'm not going to cut them back hard and I will do a skirt of bulbs around my perennials."

Root stimulants

Smyth says you need to ensure the soil is moist before you plant your bulbs.

"Don't forget the bone meal," said Smyth. "Bone meal is a natural root stimulant. It's slow release, so it'll get in there and it'll help over the winter and it'll slowly release and cause the flowers to come up."

Trick the squirrels!

After all that hard work, it would be a shame to lose your bulbs to some pesky critters nearby.

But Smyth has a trick for that, too. She says that after she does her bulb planting, she will go to another part of her garden and make a big, fake production for the squirrels watching nearby.

"I'll pretend to plant a few things, and the last place you go is where they will go," she said.

"I haven't had bulbs dug up now for about five or six years by using that little trick." 

  • Listen to Kath Smyth with the Calgary Horticultural Society talk more about bulbs and gardening with the Calgary Eyeopener below.
    It's bulb planting time in Calgary. We hear from our gardening expert Kath Smyth on how to do it the right way. 6:59

Tips for popular bulbs

  • Smyth says for tulips, you need to ensure the bulb is the right way up. At the bottom, there needs to be a defined root, and at the top, there should be a pointy end.
  • For daffodils, they have a multi-stem with two to three bulbs stacked together. Make sure the beard of the roots dangles down, and that you plant it at least five to six inches in the ground
  • Squills will create a carpet of blue bells in your garden and should be planted only three inches deep. They have a rounded point, with a tassel of roots on the bottom.
  • A Dutch iris is a little flower that blooms in early spring. Like the squill, it should be planted three inches below ground with the tassel of roots at the bottom.
Your daffodil bulbs need to be planted six inches in the ground to ensure they blossom for spring. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.


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