How to grow tulips that last and keep squirrels away!

How to grow tulips that last and keep squirrels away!

Join us Ciscoe Morris to share his tips. Hint: you’ll need some hot sauce! # new

Fill your spring garden with stunning color by planting blooming spring bulbs this fall. The best thing about spring blooming bulbs is that they already have a flower ready to go when you plant them, so unless your soil is pure clay and the bulbs rot in rainy winters, or squirrels eat them, you can’t fail to bloom. They grow great in containers too, so even if you live in an apartment, if you have a balcony, all you need is a frost-resistant pot and you can make a colorful spring display as well.

Spring flowering bulbs need at least 10 to 12 weeks in the cool ground to establish the roots needed to thrive, so be sure to plant them by the end of November. When planting, mix organic bulb food and bone meal into the soil, and water it to remove any potential air pockets. Try to plant it in an area that doesn’t get much water. In summer, constant watering may cause the bulbs to rot. Next spring, give the bulbs a nutritional boost by working in organic food around the plants once they begin to establish flower buds. Wait to cut the foliage until it is completely dead to allow the plant to store as much energy as possible in the bulb.

Choose a mix of cultivars that bloom early, mid-season, and late-season, and the blooming spring bulbs will appear on a color display that lasts into summer.

Tulips are perhaps the most popular of all spring-blooming bulbs. Unfortunately, most fancy tulips do not like rainy winters and often do not return to bloom well after the first year.

If you have well-drained soil, try planting the bulbs 12 inches deep. Using this technique, I’ve had Darwin and Empress hybrids come back and bloom for over 10 years in a row…

Another way is to plant varieties of tulips. The flowers are smaller in size but make up for their small stature with vibrant colors and a strict constitution. Some of the favorites that return and bloom every spring for years are Tulipa bakeri ‘Lilac Wonder’ (purple flowers with a yellow center) and the unutterable, T. kolpakowskiana (yellow, red-striped flowers) and even difficult to pronounce, T. vvedenskyi ‘Tangerine Beauty’ ( Orange striped red flowers.)

If squirrels tend to eat tulip bulbs, protect them by surrounding the squirrels with chicken wire when planting them. If the squirrels are used to eating the sprouts when they appear in the spring like they did with me, buy some ghost pepper sauce and add enough water to be able to spray it from a spray bottle. Sprinkle it liberally on the buds, but protect your eyes, these things are hot. The only mammals on Earth that don’t hate hot peppers are us humans. Enjoy watching the squirrels scream “Ahwa” as they run for a water source after a bite. If that doesn’t work, buy a Jack Russell terrier, and make sure the first word he learns is “Squirrel”!

Fortunately, there are quite a few spring bulbs out there that these fuzzy little brawlers don’t bother with. Snowdrops (Galanthus) are among the first flowers to bloom, often showing through the snow. Prized by collectors, these small and cheerful members of the amaryllis family are practically indestructible and form oversized lumps over time.

Daffodils and all types of daffodils contain poisonous bulbs that squirrels don’t touch, and hyacinth bulbs also contain toxins that keep squirrels away. The real magician that squirrels leave alone is Chionodoxa (Snow Glory). They are easy to grow and although the attractive blue flowers are small, they often re-establish large colonies over time.

Finally, Fritillaria is my longtime favorite. Squirrels never bother with these unique and colorful spring pants. In fact, old gardeners often plant F. Bulbs last, and most importantly, don’t forget to plant them. There’s nothing worse than finding a forgotten bag of blooming spring bulbs sitting in the garage in the spring!

Where to find most of these bulbs and deer from others is at the Hardy Plant Society’s Annual Fall Bulb and Plant Sale in Washington, held October 16 at the Urban Gardening Center, 3501 Northeast 41st Street in Seattle. You can find more information at hardyplantsocietywa.org.

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Section Producer Susie Wiley. Watch New Day Northwest at 11 A.m Days of the week day King 5 and broadcast live on KING5.com. Call New Day.

#grow #tulips #squirrels

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