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Should I Do Fall Bulbs or Plants?


About this time of year, the garden stores, home-improvement stores, and even grocery chains begin to have displays filled with bulbs to plant in the fall. The bulbs are so much less expensive compared to a live plant, and it’s tempting to choose them. Among the advantages to bulbs can be selected, especially if you want variety or unique colors and not just another orange daylily, but you often will have to do mail-order through a specialty nursery, like High Country Gardens, Brecks, or American Gardens. The stores will mostly stock the tried-and-true hardy varieties, like basic yellow daffodils (maybe with a few whites thrown in) and orange daylilies, which seem to be able to live anywhere (I envy the people who plant those lilies along the banks of their properties to cut down on weed whacking; that task is on my to-do wish list). When I plant bulbs, I always choose ones that animals like deer, raccoons, and skunks find not particularly tasty, otherwise, I end up with one or two spring tulips out of the 40 fall bulbs planted (tulips are apparently yummy). That said, I do get great enjoyment out of seeing spring plants appear in some of the oddest places. There are daffodils that come up every year right along the edge of a wooded area on our property. I never planted them. I suspect some little furry critters dug the bulbs up, grabbed them, and ran, dropping them when they took a bite. Besides seeing crocuses appear under the snow, those daffodils are among my favorite early-spring sightings. Among the most animal-resistant bulbs are daffodils, lilies, snowdrops, hyacinths (really fragrant flowers!), and lily of the valley, although some experts consider lily of the valley an invasive species, so you might give some thought to planting those. If you like to see in person what you’re going to end up with—or find planting bulbs unsatisfying because you just cover them with dirt—you should head to the nursery right after Labor Day for some good sales. It might feel late in the season to you, but the ground is going to remain warm for several months in most areas, so those roots will get well established and the plant should survive the winter. The sales can be really good, although you are definitely getting mostly “leftover” plants, so don’t expect a wide variety of colors or types. Still, though, it can be worth it. One October, many years ago, my husband found a really pathetic-looking bush-like plant on the clearance shelf for 75 cents. We didn’t even know what it was, and it looked so bad that we dubbed it “Charlie Brown.” He felt sorry for the poor plant and wanted to give it a chance. He planted it in a moist area and cared for it till the snow. The next spring, it was alive and began to thrive. It is now a beautiful evergreen, not too tall but attractive. We figured out it’s an arborvitae. Landscaping is fun if you enjoy digging in the dirt (I’ve got those augers you hook on the end of your drill to plant bulbs on my shopping list). But if you don’t have the desire or the time, Plowz and Mowz can help you find a professional in your area who can advise you on bulbs and plants and will be very willing to work into the fall to get everything set for a beautiful spring. Life’s short, that’s for sure.

Posted on July 29, 2021

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