With our abbreviated growing season here in Wisconsin, bulbs are invaluable for extending the bloom season. Take some time this autumn to plant bulbs to reward yourself with years of early-season blossoms.
How to Plant Bulbs in Wisconsin FAQ
- Where to plant bulbs? Plant in loamy, well-drained soil. With few exceptions, bulbs will rot in wet soils.
- When to plant: Hardy spring-blooming bulbs must be planted in the fall. The ideal time for planting is following “Indian Summer” when autumn temperatures really set in. In southeastern Wisconsin, this is usually the month of October.
- Do I need to fertilize? Adding fertilizer when you plant will provide resources to the bulb to increase its perenniality. Our organic, slow-release Espoma Bulb-Tone fertilizer includes beneficial mycorrhiza that greatly increases the plant’s ability to utilize soil nutrients.
- How deep? 2-3 times the height of the bulb
- How far apart? Bulbs are most effective when massed, so digging one large hole to plant a group of bulbs creates a nice show. Leave at least a bulb’s width between each bulb.
- Should I cut my bulb plants down?
Bulbs make excellent cut flowers, so cut as many blossoms as you like for floral bouquets. Once the flowers have faded you may cut the spent flowers off to encourage the plant to put its energy into underground growth rather than seed production (exceptions would be bulbs with attractive seed heads such as Alliums, or those that you want to allow to self-sow).
Do not cut the fading foliage down as the plant needs the energy provided by the foliage to nourish the bulb for future years of bloom.
Allium bulbs mixed into perennial planting.
Squill bulbs naturalized.
Early Season Bulbs
AKA: Minor bulbs
You can add an entire season of interest to your garden with early-season bulbs. Those dreary days of March & April can be spent enjoying abundant bloom rather than just waiting for the garden to wake up.
Bonus: these plants disappear into dormancy by the time your perennials emerge so there is no unsightly period of waiting for the foliage to mature.
By late April/early May the early season “minor bulbs” will disappear into dormancy and the next season of bulb bloom will begin.