By Cheryl Huckabee, Denton County Master Gardener Association
Many of us are yearning for easy-care blooming flowers after this long, hot, and dry summer. Bulbs are some of the easiest low-maintenance flowers to grow. Since it’s usually too hot to work in the garden, plan your design and order desired bulbs for the best selection in the next month or so.
The broad term “bulb” describes plants that store most or part of their lifecycle within an underground, fleshy structure. Bulbs planted in the fall spend months growing the root structure necessary to sustain the showy flowers. Once blooming finishes, the leaves continue photosynthesis, storing nutrients in the bulb for next year’s blooms.
Most gardeners prefer perennial bulbs, which respond to our climate by continuing to bloom for several years before needing to be divided and shared. In North Texas, spring-blooming examples include daffodil/narcissus, grape hyacinth, and allium, among others. In the ever popular “tulip” category, look for “species tulips” that naturalize in North Texas, as opposed to the more widely known hybrid tulips that demand higher maintenance.
Plant bulbs when soil temperatures reach about 55 degrees, typically in October or November. Planting too soon triggers leaf growth before a root system develops. Underground bulbs withstand freezing weather, but premature leaf growth succumbs to the same temperatures. Planting a little late is better than planting too early or, worse yet, saving the bulbs until the following year. If you order bulbs early, store them in a refrigerator away from any methane-producing fruits or vegetables until planting; do not allow them to freeze.
Bulbs require planning and patience, but you will be rewarded with beautiful blooms in the spring.
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