Planting Bulbs in Central Florida

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Flowers are such an important part of our enjoyment of nature, and the lovely results of properly planted bulbs create a vision of beauty. While many bulbs do best in more northern climates, there are many varieties favorable to Central Florida. Some of the favorite bulbs here and their planting month are crinum, gloriosa lily, agapanthus (January), Amazon lily (February), caladium (March), daylily (April), Clivia lily, Aztec lily (May), gladiolus, butterfly lily (July), walking iris, spider lily (August), Elephants ear (September), rain lily and other lily varieties (October), amaryllis (November). As bulbs produce flowers year after year and often will form new bulbs by spreading out from their planting position (the term for this is “naturalizing”) they are an excellent way to provide continued color in your garden.

The bulbs themselves are like a storage container as they protect the plant during dormant periods when the temperature is too hot or cold for blooming and also nourish the plant when it is growing and flowering. Sometimes bulbs will be taken from the ground during cold periods and stored in a cool, dry place until time to replant. In Central Florida, however, this is not usually necessary as the winters have few days cold enough to harm properly planted bulbs.

And, it is essential to plant bulbs properly, in the right conditions and during the right time of year. Bulbs can be planted singly or in a group or “show” as it is called. Make sure your soil is healthy and of a depth suited to the type of bulbs you are planting. Check online or with your local plant nursery to find out the correct depth for the variety of bulb being planting. Teardrop-shaped bulbs should be planted with their tips facing up. Bulbs with a flat side should be planted with their flat side facing up. Any bulbs with appendages or roots need to be planted with the roots facing down. Sometimes it is difficult to tell if a bulb is flat so these bulbs can be planted sideways. Dig a hole to drop your bulb (bulbs) into the proper depth. Be sure the bulb is placed in the right way up and then cover with soil. Be sure to water the area well and continue to do so for several days following the planting. Keep your garden as weed-free as possible, and regularly check for harmful pests and signs of disease.

Bulbs take little care after the initial planting, but there are a few tips to remember for aftercare. To ensure bulbs can conserve and store up energy to produce new blooms for the next year cut the faded blossoms before they start to produce seeds. Also, every few years, it is necessary to dig up clusters of bulbs which have naturalized and divide and replant to avoid overcrowding. While bulbs need little fertilizer, it is a good idea to occasionally add organic matter to the soil where the bulbs have been planted; usually early fall is best. And finally, when planting bulbs during winter months, add a layer of mulch to protect against the few cold days that may occur.

The flowers bulbs produce are every color of the rainbow and come in many sizes and heights. They can be used as garden borders, as colorful clusters of color, or just about anywhere you want a vivid splash of color or graceful sway of stem and leaves. And, if you enjoy the fragrance of flowers, the scent of most lilies is delightful.