Spring flowering bulbs are cheap and reward you with blooms year after year. Bulbs come in a wide array of varieties including daffodils, hyacinths, scilla and tulips. The planting and care of bulbs is easy and rarely time-consuming, but the reward of flowers and color makes any work worth the effort.
Bulbs come in several varieties including corms, tuberous roots, rhizomes and true bulbs. These varieties are usually available for purchase beginning at the end of August in most areas, says the University of Minnesota. The bulbs are best bought when they're firm, free of mold and should have a papery skin on it. Plant bulbs before the first freeze of the winter to give them the chill they require to sprout in the spring.
The location of the bulb garden is integral to its success. Bulbs need cold in the winter to put them into dormancy, and a bright, warm location to make them sprout. Do not plant the bulbs near a house foundation, as the soil warms quickly and may cause early sprouting of the flower. Choose areas that are shielded from heavy wind, are well-drained and flat.
Soil must be well drained for growing bulbs. Check the soil content. Amend it using organic matter if it is high in clay content. Organic material includes compost, peat, leaves and grass clippings. The organic matter is spread several inches thick, then worked into the top 18 inches of the soil using a rototiller, says the University of Illinois. Planting depth should be two to three times the height of the bulb says the University of Illinois Extension.
Bulbs need phosphorous to sprout roots, so a regular application of fertilizer is necessary. Phosphorous is required in the soil at planting, since phosphorous does not travel well through the soil, and some bulbs may be buried several inches deep. Add five tablespoons of 10-10-10 fertilizer to the soil at time of planting. An application of fertilizer is necessary every month from the moment of the plant emergence from the soil until the plant flowers.
In most years, you can leave the bulbs in the ground over the winter, but if you want to divide them, you can dig them up and remove and replant the small bulbs that grow from the main bulb. Some varieties require digging only every few years, such as daffodils and crocus, to prevent crowding, so check your particular plant variety for its needs.