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Fall season is good time for planting bulbs

By Staff | Nov 16, 2016

BARB BARRETT/The Luminary Holding a daffodil bulb, Master Gardener Lois Velkoff from Muncy presented some tips on growing bulbs to members of the Hughesville Garden Club.

HUGHESVILLE – The Garden Clubs of Hughesville and Muncy have been winding down their community activities and getting ready for the upcoming year. Both groups participated in the Lycoming County Fair and will continue in 2017.

Last month Lois Velkoff from the Muncy Garden Club and a certified Master Gardener, presented a program on bulbs to members of the Hughesville Garden Club at the social hall of the Trinity Lutheran Church in Hughesville.

Storing bulbs and planting them correctly insures great success for a variety of flowers each season. Some are tubular, some are rhizomes and others are true bulbs like the daffodil and hyacinth which arrive in early spring according to Velkoff.

The iris is another true bulb. The fall is a good time of year to plant some true bulbs. “Be sure not to plant them too deep, no more than 8 to 10 inches.” Velkoff explained with a handout. “The bigger the bulb, the deeper. Beware of the chipmunks; they like the tulips.”

Selecting quality bulbs is very important. Velkoff brought some daffodil bulbs and suggested getting bulbs from a reputable grower. “Look for plump, firm bulbs. Get them from friends, and no mushy bulbs. Quality and size are important.”

The dahlias and gladiolus are tubular roots, and can’t stay in the ground too long.

“The more tender bulbs are delicate and need to be dug up and stored in cool temperatures at around 40 degrees, then planted again when the frost is over,” advised Velkoff. Spring bulbs like the tulip need to be dug up and separated to get more flowers.

Over the winter bulbs can be kept in a cool, dry place to keep them from drying out until time for planting. Temperatures higher than 70 degrees will damage the flower inside. Rhizones can be stored in peat, perlite or vermiculite.

Summer flowering bulbs like the dahlias are more tender and their roots seldom overwinter successfully in our part of Pennsylvania. “They must be dug up and stored each fall.”

“Tulips need nutrients. Compost is good to surround them when they come up.” Clay soil is a challenge and needs the fertilizer. “Bulbs will grow, but they won’t survive. Look for bugs too and use pesticides if needed. Dawn detergent works well,” said Velkoff. Another tip: Be sure to have good drainage and bulb beds should be dug when the soil is fairly dry. Wet soil can hold back the plant growth, especially if it is packed too tightly.

Hostas and verbenas grow well with bulbs. The cannas, callas and lily are summer flowering bulbs. The crocus and hyacinth are hardy. “When storing them, keep checking the bulbs periodically. Don’t ignore them. They can get too humid and rot with moisture,” Velkoff warned. “If you tend to them,” she added, “they will keep growing.”

The Hughesville Garden Club will end the year with a holiday luncheon served by the culinary arts students at the Lycoming Career and Technology Center. In September they met with Cheryl Richardson at Cheri’s House of Flowers in Hughesville and made fairy gardens.

Cheri will also be meeting with members of the Muncy Garden Club to make Thanksgiving arrangements on Thursday, November 17 at the St. James Episcopal Church Parish Hall, 215 S. Main Street at 6:30 p.m. A holiday dinner is planned for December 1, 2016 with a gift exchange at the Copper Roof Bed & Breakfast in Pennsdale.

Both garden clubs welcome new members and guests at any time. They will not be meeting in January and February of 2017.