Flower bulbs are awesome. When I was growing up, I noticed flower bulbs in the top soil, and I was not really sure what to make of them until my father explained to me what they are and how they work. It was difficult for me to grasp as a youngster, since all the other flowers we planted, we actually had to plant as real flowers each and every year. To make things simple, I just started calling them the magic flowers.
If you think about how they work, that is pretty much what they are. It is an absolute dream come true for someone who works on a landscape to have flowers that will continually grow back every year with almost no effort. The most important thing is to make sure you plant them right the first time.
There are a number of ways you can plant any group of flowers, but you usually get the nicest appearance if you plant a whole bunch of flowers together. The same is obviously true when planting flower bulbs. You can go around your yard and plant a couple flower bulbs every few feet, but this will usually not allow your yard to achieve its optimal potential.
What usually will happen is that the scattered flowers will just kind of blend in with the surrounding landscape which is probably not the intentions you had when you planted the bulbs in the first place. The best thing to do is plant them together.
The first thing you want to do is be sure that you have a good raised bed of top soil with good quality top soil. Then you want to plant a bunch of flower bulbs together as a group. People usually buy anywhere from twenty to about fifty or sixty flower bulbs for their landscape, obviously depending on how big or small the yard is and more importantly how large of an area the raised bed of top soil is.
The best time to plant flower bulbs is late spring. That means that if you do not have a bed of raised top soil in which to plant the flower bulbs, you should take care of it in the early spring. That way, the top soil is ready, and all you need to do is plant the flower bulbs throughout the summer.
As the blooms start to wither, it is best to clip them off when they start withering. This helps the bulb save energy for the winter. However, the tops of the bulbs should not be cut until they have completely wilted, and during this waiting period is where the debate begins.
There are many gardeners and landscapers that bend over the tops and tie them with a rubber-band, and this does the job. However, there is a problem brewing beneath the top soil which many people, even experts, simply do not realize. The problem is that the bulbs are not getting any of the nutrients from the tops that they would be getting if not for the rubber-bands.
The way this works is very simple. Plants go through a process called photosynthesis, but everyone knows that. The thing that many people do not know is that there are "veins" in the plants just like in people. These "veins" bring nutrients, which get soaked up through the petals during photosynthesis, down to the bulbs, thereby keeping them alive and strong even though the flowers are wilting. Having the rubber-band there messes up two things: It does not allow the tops of the flowers to soak up the sun; and it also restricts the flow of nutrients from the flowers to the bulbs by means of the "veins."
Therefore the best thing to do is probably just simply wait for the flowers to completely wilt and then to clip them. As they die off one at a time, the annuals should be growing in enough to be able to conceal the wilting flowers which clearly have what it takes to be an eye-soar.
One problem which a number of people have is that when they plant the bulbs, squirrels come along and dig them up for a nice little snack. There is a simple enough remedy for this. When you plant the bulbs, wrap them up in steel wool leaving only the tip of the bulb not covered in steel wool. The steel wool will not prevent the flowers from growing as long as the tips are not covered, but it will stop the squirrels from eating since they want to eat, not floss.
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