Aspens are starting to show signs of fall color, currants are turning red and the sounds of elk bugling can be heard in the valleys. Autumn is definitely in the air and it officially begins on Sept. 23 this year, but now is also the time to think about spring.
Spring-flowering bulbs are always a welcomed sight after many months of winter. Crocus and daffodils pop up early and often can be seen surrounded by snow on the west and south sides of buildings. These and other spring-flowering bulbs should be purchased and planted in the fall and, if purchased in September, you will have the best selection of size and variety.
When selecting bulbs, avoid those with mold or mechanical damage. Bulbs can be purchased from bulb catalogs, open bins and convenience prepacks. When selecting from an open bin, purchase bulbs that look like the others in that bin as sometimes bulbs are inadvertently placed in the wrong bin.
Bulbs can be planted until late October, but plant early in September for best establishment. Most references recommend that you plant small bulbs 3 to 4 inches deep; however, if you have reliable snow cover combined with heavy soil, amend your soil with organic matter and plant your bulbs no more than two and half times their width or the soil may be too slow to warm for good bloom.
Small bulbs should be planted 10-15 per square foot. To keep rodents from devouring the bulbs, you can plant them in chicken wire boxes.
After plants bloom the following spring, remove spent blossoms and apply a light application of a balanced fertilizer. Do not remove the foliage until it has withered and yellowed and is easily pulled from the soil.