Plants - Flower Bulbs

Choose the right spring bulbs for your garden

How to pick the best specimens for a bloom-filled spring show

Deterring wildlife
Sure we enjoy wildlife watching—but not as squirrels, mice, voles, and deer chow down on our plants.

Dube says deer-resistant bulbs include daffodils, alliums, chionodoxa and fritillaria. “Squirrels generally do not like daffodils but they do like tulips and crocus,” she warns.

Dube recommends these deterrents:

  • Place mesh wire or metal barriers, at least 12 inches high around your flower bulb garden. This will prevent rodents from entering the garden area from above. Bury the bottom edge 6 to 10 inches to prevent them from digging beneath the barrier.
  • Once you are done planting, clean up the garden area. Remove any mulch or materials in the area to eliminate inviting hiding spots. (If using mulch, do not apply too early, as this could attract them. Apply after the soil freezes hard in a thin layer.)
  • Planting at the required depth also helps prevent wildlife from digging up and munching bulbs. Rule of thumb? Plant in holes three to four times as deep as the size of the bulb.

Which way is up?
Bulbs generally have a pointy growing tip with a flatter root base. There may be telltale roots showing, too, to help you plant the bulb root-down with the growing tip facing skywards. However, if you inadvertently plant the bulb on its side, the tip will find it’s way to the sunlight!

Where to buy bulbs

Wherever practical, support local nurseries or shops where you can hand-pick each bulb. Look for open-box displays where bulbs are arranged according to species, showing colour, height and variety. Choose the chubbiest, hardest, mould-free specimens.

Bulbs sometimes come “twinned” with two attached. Because bulbs already contain next spring’s blossoms, you’ll be buying two flowers in one: a best buy!

Here are a few Canadian companies where you can order bulbs online:

Katharine Fletcher is a garden columnist, freelance writer and author who enjoys her organic gardens at her farm Spiritwood, in the Pontiac region of West Quebec.

istock photo by Willi Schmitz

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