Bulbs, Splitting Mums and Planting Perennials

Standing over your garden donning a pair of gloves and holding a spade, the job of planting perennials, splitting mums or transplanting overgrown plants is the ideal task for the fall season. While the forecast maintains warm nightly temperatures reaching a low between 40 and 50 degrees, and there is about six weeks from the first frost, go ahead and start digging in!

Bulb Rules

The thrill of discovering the first signs of spring’s arrival through bulbs is reason enough to start planting daffodils, hyacinth, peonies, tulips, iris’ and lilies. Read the packaging thoroughly first. If it states, “plant in the spring,” follow those explicit directions for the best outcome.

Unlike flowers with root systems, spring bulbs bloom before most trees and shrubs leaf out; therefore, daffodils, among other plants, can grow if planted around the base of trees.

  • Think of air similarly to the flow of water. As it descends a slope, it begins to warm and settle in lower regions; therefore, for early blooms, consider planting on a southern slope.
  • Aerate the soil by breaking up a wide area and mix in compost.
  • The rule of thumb is to plant two times the size of the bulb. Depths, most often, are three to four inches or eight inches.
  • Press the bulbs into the loose soil and cover rather than use a bulb planter.
  • Watering after planting helps settle the soil while providing moisture to start the rooting process. Remember to soak at a depth to reach the roots. Be careful of overwatering to prevent rot.
  • Once flowers appear, you’ll need to water the ground and not the leaves or stem.

It is a choice to reclaim spring bulbs and store them in peat moss during the winter. By living in zone 7, with short winters and opportunities for warmer weather, our bulbs can remain in the soil throughout the year.

Dividing Bulbs

When the bloom quality declines, it is a sure sign a plant expanded by spreading. Not all bulbs require intervention. It just depends on your viable space and whether the plant would rejuvenate from the split. Look first at the crown or root ball. Some plants only require your hands, an effort of twisting or pulling apart, while other species require a sharp knife or spade. Dispose of all damaged, mushy, infected looking bulbs. Before replanting in well-composted soil, cut back the current growth and remove brown leaves. Just remember to return the plant to the ground soon after digging it up!

Splitting Perennials

Full girthy plants reveal robust health and age; yet, similar to bulbs, perennials can benefit from the act of cutting. Two is much better than one! Chrysanthemums, for instance, are an ideal specimen. Due to the root systems, consider dividing the mum in half or fourths. You can use a knife or spade. Replant immediately in loose, well-drained, organic soil. Other plants are Shasta Daisy, Creeping Phlox, Tickseed, Oriental Poppy, Siberian Iris and Hosta.

Share Divisions!

If, by chance, you have too many plants and not enough space, consider giving family, good friends or work colleagues your bulbs or divisions. Day Lilies, Iris’ and Peonies are special gifts from nature!

Planting Perennials

Gardening centers and nurseries have great selections of potted flowers that are on sale or marked for clearance. It is difficult to pass up a great deal; therefore, create the best viable situation for your new plants. In addition to improving the soil by adding compost, stake the area on two sides to act as a reminder not to disrupt the location in the spring. The beauty of springtime reveals well-nourished and healthy plants after a season of cold weather and adequate moisture.

Plantings in the fall lead to a beautiful view in the spring. You will only have to wait!


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