Question: When is the optimum time to plant spring flowering bulbs?
Answer: Fall is the best time to plant spring flowering bulbs. Before planting, site preparation is essential. Good drainage is a must for spring bulbs. If you have clay like soil, improve it by adding organic material. Materials available are peat moss, compost, and aged bark, just to name a few. If you have a sandy type soil, you can also add organic materials to help increase water and nutrient hold capacity. The pH range of the planting area should be in the 6 to 7 range. Having your soil tested can determine your pH level.
For Sampson County, late October to November is usually the optimum time for planting spring bulbs. You always need to wait until the soil temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Plant bulbs based on their size. For bulbs 1 inch in height, plant 5 inches deep. For bulbs 2 inches or more in height, plant 8 inches deep. Large bulbs should be planted 3 to 6 inches apart and small bulbs should be planted 1 to 2 inches apart.
After planting, you can add a 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch. Be sure to water as needed, especially if we have a dry fall. During the spring and summer, after the flowers have bloomed and faded and/or fallen off, remove the flower organs with hand pruners or scissors. Always allow the foliage of bulbs to die naturally before you remove the leaves. A major foliar disease that could occur is Botrytis and can be controlled by a fungicide. There is one insect that typically attacks bulbs, which is aphids. An insecticide can control them. Always check to determine if the product you choose is labeled for use on bulbs.
Reminder: Please call the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Center at 910-592-7161 with your horticultural questions and to register for any upcoming events. Be sure to check out the Ask An Expert Widget at sampson.ces.ncsu.edu for any questions you may have.