Question and Answer
Q. I ordered a lot of spring-flowering
daffodils and tulips and expect the shipment to arrive soon. Is there
any trick to planting them? -- Cindy Cunningham, Terre Haute, Ind.
A. Start with a design first.
I like working with large groups of plants, depending upon the size of
your garden. For most residential sites, two dozen bulbs can make quite
a show. If you plant three daffodils in one spot, three different ones
in another, etc., you'll never get the impact of two dozen bulbs in one
area. In an intimate garden, you might work with smaller numbers. In a
formal front yard, you might plant four dozen of the same daffodil. Think
in terms of "drifts" of color and avoid planting anything in
Spring flowering bulbs bloom from February
to May, and it's tricky to select two that will bloom together. You can
find this information in the bulb catalogs and choosing plants that bloom
together can create some interesting combinations.
I prefer to use a bulb drill, which is a
large drill bit available at most garden centers or hardware stores. It
allows me to tuck bulbs between perennials or plant roots without excavating
huge areas of dirt. However, if the soil is poorly drained, the entire
bed must be amended, by adding organic matter, such as peat moss, well-rotted
manure or compost. Adequate fertility can be achieved by adding a low-analysis,
balanced fertilizer, such as 5-10-5 or 6-10-4, at the rate of 2-3 pounds
per 100 square feet of bed.
The size of the bulb and the species will dictate how deep to plant.
In general, the depth to the bottom of the bulb should be about 2-3 times
the size of the bulb, but check the planting instructions specific to
each particular flower.
For more information, call the Purdue Extension office in your county,
and ask for a copy of HO-86, "Flowering Bulbs," which is also
available online at
Q. I grew some glorious cannas this year, but I know
they aren't hardy. How do I handle them now that it's fall?
A. Cannas should be dug up after a hard frost. Cut the
tops back to 4 inches, lift the roots with a spading fork and air dry
them in a warm spot for one to two weeks. Canna roots do not require covering.
They can be stored in shallow boxes and held at 45-50 F.
You'll be surprised at how the tuberous roots have increased during the
growing season. In the spring, you can plant the clumps in their entirety
or divide them into smaller pieces and enjoy many more cannas! Be sure
there is a portion of the old stem base in each division that you make,
since the new growth buds are in the old stem.