Editor’s note: Get Growing, written by the La Plata County Extension Office’s Master Gardener Program, features timely tips and suggestions for your garden and landscape.By Melanie Palmer
Fall-planted bulbs are ideal flowers to grow in our area, since they require a period of cold temperatures underground that our winters provide. Bulbs are relatively inexpensive, many or most return year after year, some even multiplying in number of blooms.
The Durango Botanical Society’s Fall Bulb Sale at 10 a.m. Oct. 19 at the La Plata County Fairgrounds is an excellent opportunity to try an amazing variety of premium bulbs from Holland. The problem is to whittle down a selection.
Think in terms of planting location, desired bloom time and length of display to guide your choice.
First, decide on planting areas and amend the soil if needed. Bulbs can be planted in rock gardens but should not be planted in outdoor containers, raised beds or window boxes. Bulbs prefer sandy loam with neutral pH and do not like unamended clay. Do not amend with chicken droppings, horse manure or mushroom compost or amend individual planting holes. Bulbs do not like “wet feet” in summer, so do not place them where they receive a lot of water from lawn sprinklers.
Most spring-blooming bulbs need six hours of sunlight per day. But if you have a shady area or filtered sunlight area, you can try a grouping of anemone, chionodoxa, Spanish bluebell, squill and pink trumpet daffodils.
If you want to enjoy the earliest possible display, plant a grouping of chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow), reticulated or rock garden iris, crocus, miniature daffodils and some small-species tulips. This group is suitable for a small planting area.
If you want continuous color for several months, plant crocus and reticulated iris, early and late (usually double) daffodils, early and late tulips, hyacinth, Dutch iris and finish off with camassia and alliums.
As usual, the bulb sale will be preceded at 9 a.m. by a humorous talk by Mike Smedley. The sale will open at 10 a.m., and there will be volunteers on hand to answer questions.
Melanie Palmer has been a Colorado master gardener since 2012. She lives in La Plata County.