by Suzanne DeJohn
Dahlias are easy to grow and create a huge visual impact
Learn how to plant bulbs! Spring-planted, summer-blooming bulbs, such as Gladiolus, Begonias and Dahlias, are some of the easiest and most rewarding plants to grow in your garden. Here are some guidelines to help you get your bulbs off to a good start.
When and Where to Plant
Many spring-planted bulbs originate from tropical climates and won't tolerate cold temperatures. Wait to plant these tender bulbs until all danger of frost is past and the soil temperature is above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Most bulbs should be planted directly in the garden or containers, but Begonias should be started several weeks before bringing outdoors to ensure summer blooms.
If you must store the bulbs more than a few days before planting, read the instructions in Storing Your Bulbs Before Planting in Spring.
Calla Lilies are a colorful and elegant addition to any garden.
Preparing the Soil
Unless otherwise noted, bulbs prefer well-drained soil — soggy soil will lead to rot. If water puddles in the soil after a heavy rain, consider planting the bulbs in raised beds or in containers. For best results follow the recommendations for light levels; for example, bulbs that prefer full sun may grow leggy and topple over if planted in shade.
Loosen soil in the planting bed to a depth of at least 8". Although bulbs contain all the nutrients they need to grow and bloom this season, you may want to mix some compost into the planting bed to help improve drainage. If you want to add fertilizer, mix it into the soil at this time. (Avoid adding fertilizer directly to the planting hole because concentrated fertilizer can burn roots.)