Plan now for spring color in your gardens

Planting now will ensure vibrant bursts of color in your garden in the spring.

Drab and generally ugly, fall bulbs are deceiving as to the brilliance they bring each spring. Plan now for that splash of yellow, pink and red that welcomes the spring season with bursts of vibrant color. Now is the perfect time to plant tulips, daffodils, crocus and other spring bulbs.

“Spring bulbs” include true bulbs, corms, rhizomes, tubers and tuberous roots. The differences in these structures are not as important as their similarities they share.

While dormant, the bulb holds the whole plant. It is a storehouse for the plant and all the nutrients it needs to begin to grow again. True bulbs include daffodils and tulips. True bulbs have a flower surrounded by layers of their food supply. Corms such as crocus and gladiolus are a mass of stored food, roots grow from the baseplate, and buds sprout from the top. Rhizomes are a type of root that stores food, iris, lily of the valley and ginger are all rhizomes. Tubers and tuberous roots are an enlarged, food storing part of a root or stem, the flowers develop after planting. Examples of tubers are dahlias and caladiums and tuberous begonias.

Some bulbs are hardy and able to stay in the ground all winter, some even require a “cold period” to produce their beautiful blooms, while others are considered tender bulbs and need to be dug up and stored in a cool dry place during Michigan winters.

Whatever type of bulb you choose remember to select large, healthy bulbs for the best blooms and the best return on your investment for years to come. Make sure the bulbs are firm and free of mold. Spongy and dried out looking bulbs will not perform well in your garden.

Also take some time to plan for early, mid and late bloomers. This will give you an array of colors bursting throughout the entire spring season from the earliest crocus in late march to late tulips in the end of May. With careful planning, you will have color right up to the time you plant you summer annuals. With proper selection, planting and care bulbs will bring a smile to your face with bursts of color for many years to come.