|Issue #483 - September 11, 2014|
Designing Natural Plantings with Bulbs
Spring flowering bulbs have arrived!
Nothing is more enchanting than big drifts of flowering bulbs flowing through grassy areas or in lightly shaded woodlands. Although your bulbs won't bloom until next spring, you'll want to plant them now to ensure they have plenty of time to sprout.
We've put together these tips to help you give your plantings a more "natural" look:
Designing Your Plantings
Naturalized plantings should mimic nature and blend in with the existing landscape. To achieve this, lay out your planting areas so they follow the contours of your land and be generous with the size of the areas to be planted.
The impact of your planting will be much greater if you have several large areas of naturalized bulbs than if you have lots of small areas. Naturalized plantings look best when they are planted densely in the center then feather out to fewer bulbs at the edges of the planting. And finally, swaths of one solid color generally have greater visual appeal than drifts of mixed colors.
The key to selecting a good location for naturalizing bulbs is finding an area that isn't mowed until after the foliage ripens or turns yellow. Ripening foliage feeds the underground bulb so it can store energy and nutrients needed to bloom next spring. Therefore, a manicured front lawn may not be the best place for a naturalized planting. However, an area underneath deciduous trees, in grassy meadows, gracing a hill, or brightening a woodland would be perfect.
Planting and Care
Please refer to the planting depth and spacing listed on the box or tear-off tags of your bulbs. You can also refer to the Bulb Advice section of our website for this information.
Once the bulbs are planted, you can help them put on a great show year after year by applying slow-release fertilizer as a top dressing after planting and each fall thereafter. Follow the label directions for application rates.
If, after 10 years or so, flowering slows down and the plants seem overgrown, dig the clumps, divide them and replant. You can use the extra bulbs to enlarge your naturalized areas or share them with friends.
Bringing Houseplants Indoors
Many houseplants thrive during the long, bright summer days, especially when properly moved outdoors. However, these plants may have some trouble adjusting to indoor conditions when colder weather strikes.
Many of our common indoor plants are native to the tropical or subtropical climates and cannot tolerate cold temperatures. Houseplants should be brought inside before the outdoor temperature drops to 55 degrees. If days are warm but night temperatures are cold, you might consider bringing the plants indoors for the night and putting them back out in the morning.
Routine Leaf Drop
Many plants will drop leaves in response to the lower light conditions inside most homes. Gradually exposing the plants to lower light intensity before permanently moving them indoors should help lessen the shock. However, some leaf drop is unavoidable.
Water and Fertilize
Plants will likely slow down their growth considerably, so less water and fertilizer will be needed. The best moisture meter is your finger. For most plants, you should allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Reduce your fertilizer applications or discontinue if plants seem to be in a resting period.
Check for Insects
Be sure to inspect your plants closely for signs or symptoms of insect attack. Insects such as spider mites and aphids are very prolific outdoors and may increase their population rapidly once they are brought indoors. These pests may also spread to other plants very quickly.
A sharp spray from the garden hose will often remove insect pests from houseplant foliage. Insecticidal soaps also work well, particularly on soft-bodied insects such as aphids. Several treatments may be necessary to be sure that the pests are gone.
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