It’s time to plan for spring colors and the best bets for bright colors and interesting shapes are bulbs. Planted in the fall they burst into color just when winter is beginning to fade. The first blooms foretelling spring are tiny snowdrops (Galanthus) and the bright yellows and purples of snow crocus (Crocus chrysanthus).
Optimum planting time for spring flowers falls between Sept. 15 and Nov. 30 in Pennsylvania. It’s easy to plant spring flowers and they last for years. As long as the ground is still soft enough to dig in, bulbs can be planted anytime in the fall.
Check your landscape for areas that will be bare in spring. Don’t overlook autumn shady areas that will be sunny in spring under leafless trees, taking time to plan ahead for early spring color in those bare spots. Select a spot where mid-to late spring plants can camouflage bulb foliage as it begins to fade.
Bulbs need part-shade to sun and well drained soil. If you need a soil test, they are available at County Extension Offices.
Mix in peat moss or compost if your soil is mostly sand or clay. For chipmunk or squirrel problems, surround bulbs with a cage of chicken wire or spread it over the top of the soil and cover with mulch.
Plant beautiful spring color now
The flowers of bulbs with their wide variety of bloom times can provide a continuous show of color from February through early summer.
Carol Kagan is a master gardener and author who has been active in herbal organizations for over 35 years. She has designed and maintained herb gardens and provided docent services at historic properties. She is the author of Herb Sampler. The book is a great resource for beginners who love herbs but aren’t quite sure how to get started; or have been unsuccessful in establishing a herb garden.