In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
September, 2001
Regional Report

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New growth on chasmanthus and sweet peas signal it's bulb planting time in our region.

Bulb Planting Time

September means bulb buying and planting time for our area. Even though it's early fall, now is the time to think about planting spring flowering bulbs such as allium, amaryllis, anemone, brodiaea, crocus, daffodil, freesia, fritillaria, galanthus, baby gladiolus, glory-of-the-snow, grape, Dutch, and wood hyacinth, Dutch iris, ixia, leucojum, lycoris, montbretia, narcissus, ranunculus, scilla, snowdrop, sparaxis, tigridia, tritonia, triteleia, tulip, watsonia, and winter aconite.



Buying Bulbs

When buying bulbs, choose the biggest, plumpest ones you can find. These have the most stored food and will produce the largest and most numerous blooms over a long period of time. They'll cost a bit more, but they'll a bigger and bolder flower show next spring. Refrigerate hyacinths and tulips for 6 to 8 weeks starting now so they are ready to plant in November.



Bulbs for Naturalizing

If you enjoy seeing blooms in your lawn, these are some bulbs that are good choices for naturalizing such as chionodoxa, eranthis, muscari, ornithogalum, and puschkinia.



Bulbs for Forcing

Not only will you want to plant bulbs outdoors, but also purchase some bulbs to be forced indoors as well. Good choices include amaryllis, crocus, freesia, lily-of-the-valley, paperwhite narcissus, and tulip.

Bulb Chilling

Store the bulbs in a cool, well-ventilated area until you're ready to plant. Some bulbs need a chilling period longer than what we receive in winter. Chill crocus, daffodil, hyacinth, narcissus, and tulip bulbs in a paper bag on the lowest shelf in the refrigerator for at least 6 weeks. The paper bags enable the bulbs to breathe while chilling.



Soil Prep

Enrich the soil where the bulbs are to be planted with compost, bone meal, and granite dust or wood ashes (not charcoal ash). Add a fertilizer with a significant amount of nitrogen such as Bulb Booster (9-9-6). Nitrogen is easily washed from our soil by winter rains and bulbs need a small but continuous supply of nitrogen for strong growth of the foliage and the bloom stalk.



Time Your Planting

For a long-lasting spring flower display, plant some early, mid, and late-season blooming bulbs every other week from October through mid-December, and again beginning in late January. Not only variety will effect bloom time, but depth of planting. Shallower plantings will bloom sooner and deeper plantings later. However, if you want everything to bloom in spectacular display, plant similar varieties at the same time and depth.



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