What spring gardens look like next year will depend largely on what is planted now, so while spring is more than five months away, it's time to get planting.
Most people are busy preparing for the holidays, but gardeners should take some time out this month to plant their spring-blooming bulbs. While optimal planting time of the spring bulbs is late October through early December, Sharyn Altman, past president of the Georgia Master Gardener's Association, said she has planted her bulbs much later.
"Since our ground doesn't freeze, I've planted after Christmas," said Altman, adding that doing so delays the bloom time.
It is a frequent misconception that all bulbs will bloom year after year, Altman said. The only way to ensure that there will be blooms each year is to plant Southern bulbs, also known as cemetery bulbs. These bulbs are for warmer-climate states and will guarantee a proliferation of blooms.
"There aren't a lot of people in the area that carry bulbs for the South," said Altman, adding that only a handful of local nurseries sell the variety specific to our area of the country.
Among some of the bulbs that Altman said are popular in our area are the Grand Primo and Golden Dawn daffodils, Snowflake, Grape hyacinth, Lady Jane and Tinka tulips, Jonquils, Campernelle, Byzantine gladiolus and Pipet.
"Amaryllis and Paperwhites are some of my favorites," she said. "Since our ground doesn't freeze, after the holidays are over, I'll go and put mine in the ground. Paperwhites are wonderful because they come back every year at Christmas and they don't need any attention."
It is recommended bulbs be planted 21/2 times deeper than their height. There should be good drainage or the bulb will rot. Additionally, bulbs should be planted in an area that gets a good amount of sun from January until May.
Altman also suggests layering bulbs -- larger bulbs on bottom, covered with a layer of soil and smaller bulbs on top. She suggests layering bulbs as many as three deep from largest to smallest to "get the most bang for your space."
Other than having a little patience and waiting for the bulbs to bloom, there's little else that is required. "You can plant them any time," said Altman. "Any time that I've got the energy, time and money, I'm going to plant."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.