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Plant large masses of bulbs to appreciate the beauty. Before planting, and to help determine your needs and keep the plants in harmony, visualize what will be in leaf or bloom at the same time as the bulbs.
It is important when landscaping with bulbs to plant groups of 12 or more of the same variety. Massed flowers look better; avoid the polka dot or soldier effect.
When buying bulbs, always select ones that are firm and blemish-free. Remember, large bulbs produce large flowers.
If you plant bulbs with a bulb planter or trowel, apply one teaspoon of bone meal to the bottom of the planting hole 1 to 2 inches below the bulb.
Begonias - Select an area that is well drained and partially shaded. Set the tubers in the ground just so they are covered and no deeper, because they are subject to rotting. To allow for plenty of growing space and air circulation, set the tubers or plants 18 to 24 inches apart. It may be necessary to stake the young plants because many of the larger growing varieties become top heavy in bloom.
Dahlias - Dahlias are among the easiest garden plants to grow. The plants flower in virtually every color except clear blue, and flowers range in size from less than 1 inch across to those more than a foot in diameter. Plants normally bloom from midsummer until frost. The fleshy roots must be dug and stored each year. Many varieties can be started from seed. When propagating roots, be sure that a portion of the old stem remains attached. This insures bud development of the new plant.
Gladioli - Gladioli offer a wide array of colors and are often grown as cut flowers. The plants grow and flower best in full sun. To extend the flowering season throughout the summer, plant the corms at 7- to 10-day intervals until 2 months before the first frost is expected. Plant the corms 3 to 6 inches deep, depending on size of corm. To keep the plants erect, they must be staked, or "mound up" additional soil around the plants when they reach a height of 12 inches.
Cannas - Plant the rhizomes 2 to 4 inches deep and 12 to 18 inches apart. Plant in full sun. Dig up the rhizomes before first frost for planting again next spring.
Caladium - Caladiums are grown for their beautiful colored leaves. They provide beauty in full sun to heavy shade, depending on the species selected. Plant caladium tubers when the soil temperature is approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Plant with the top of tuber even with the soil surface and 8 to 12 inches apart. In the fall, dig the plants just before the first frost, and allow the foliage to wither in a protected place. Remove the foliage once it is dry, and store the tubers over winter at 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. To encourage a single, large stem with leaves, remove all eyes except one before planting.
Daylilies - Plant the tuberous roots of daylilies 0.5 to 1 inch deep and 2 to 2.5 feet apart. There are many colors and plant heights to accommodate any landscape situation. The early summer blooms may be extended for more than a month with proper variety selection. Divide the clumps every 3 to 5 years.
Methods of Planting
To extend the blooming period, plant bulbs at different depths. Location, such as sun versus shade, is an excellent way to vary the time of bloom up to 2 weeks.
Except for the daylilies you will need to dig up these plants after frost has browned the foliage. Then allow them to dry for about a week in a shady, well-ventilated site such as a garage or tool shed. Remove any excess soil and pack them in peat moss. Make sure the bulbs do not touch so that if one decays, the rot doesn't spread to its neighbors. Dusting them with fungicide before storage will help prevent them from rotting.
Caladium should be stored between 50 and 60 degrees F. But the rest of the bulbs mentioned should be stored near 40 degrees F. Finding a good spot may be difficult. Some people place them against a basement wall furthest from the furnace and insulate them so that the wall keeps them cool.
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