Planting flowering bulbs

Planting flowering bulbs is as a low maintenance way to enjoy flowers in your yard for many months. The flowers tend to be showier with vibrant colours and large blooms, plus there’s a large variety of heights and bloom times with some even appearing when snow is still on the ground. 

Planning your garden

  • Best results are obtained by taking into consideration light requirements, heights, colours and the different flowering periods. Choose plants for Calgary’s hardiness zone 3 or mirco-climates of zone 4 in sheltered areas:
    • For a natural look plant a minimum of 6 bulbs around rocks and trees, avoid planting in a square arrangement.
    • To create a pollinator-friendly garden plant native flowers with varying bloom times, shapes and sizes.
  • When planting examine bulbs and choose ones that are plump and firm with no signs of injury.
    • Bulbs should be covered with twice its own depth of soil, pointy end, eyes or buds facing up.
    • Consider adding organic matter, a bulb booster fertilizer (9-8-6), or bone meal.
  • After blooming:
    • Cut off flowers and stop watering to allow the leaves to dry out and die naturally.
    • In the fall add mulch to prevent plants from sprouting too early, cover sprouts with sheets if frost is forecasted.
  • How to address problems with bulbs:
    • Bulb dust is helpful in preventing soil insects or disease from damaging bulbs.
    • Gophers and Squirrels will dig up bulbs for food, however neither eat daffodil bulbs and will leave them alone. Place a tulip bulb at the bottom of the hole then place a daffodil bulb on top of the tulip. Other methods include sprinkling blood meal on top of the soil where bulbs are planted or using a bulb cage as a barrier.

Spring planting

Although most summer bulbs don’t survive our colder winters, for an immediate splash of colour you can plant potted bulbs ready to bloom. These bulbs can then be dug up in the fall and stored indoors until planting again after the last frost in the spring. Due to their lower cost people also replant bulbs yearly, a few popular varieties include Dahlias, Gladioli and Begonias. Try planting these two winter hardy perennials:

  • Lilies (24”-72”) can be planted as soon as the ground has thawed. There’s a wide variety of heights, bloom times, colours and fragrance. They attract many pollinators including bees and butterflies.
  • Hydrangeas (36”-60”) come in a rainbow of colours and varieties and attract butterflies.

Fall planting

Fall is the perfect times to plant your Spring-flowering bulbs like Tulips and Daffodils. Blooming April to May, they are popular due to their early splash of colour, low maintenance and variety. Try planting a variety of blooms times.

  • Prairie Crocus (4”-16”) is a native wildflower purple to yellow in colour that appear when snow is still on the ground, one of the first food sources for pollinators.
  • Alliums (6”-60”) blooms late spring. They are a great cut flower plus edible, squirrels detest these onion varities.
  • Canada Anemone (8”-31”) is a white native wildflower that bloom late spring into the summer.

Having a YardSmart yard will allow you lots of time to relax and enjoy being outdoors. By taking the time to pre-plan your garden with varying bloom shapes, sizes and flowering seasons, you can have longer lasting colour while also attracting pollinators.

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