No-Dig Method for Planting Bulbs

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20171029A ENG

You can plant bulbs just by covering them with mulch.

Did you know that it’s possible to plant bulbs without digging a hole?

Simply loosen the surface soil, add a little fertilizer or mycorrhizal fungi, then drop the bulbs on the ground. All that’s left is to cover them with 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) of mulch (shredded leaves, straw, pine needles, ramial chipped wood, etc.).

The more fastidious gardeners will, of course, want to reposition the bulbs before covering them with mulch so that the basal plate (flattened part) is directed downwards and the pointed tip upwards, but even if they are placed sideways or upside down, bulbs will still grow.

This method works as well with fall bulbs (tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, garlic) as with summer bulbs (dahlias, gladioli, potatoes, etc.).

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Contractile roots

Curiously, hardy bulbs will dig themselves down into the soil over time, eventually reaching a depth of 3 to 10 inches (8 to 25 cm) or more, pulled down to that species’ ideal depth by their contractile roots.

When it comes to being laidback, planting bulbs without digging pretty much takes the cake!


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A covering of mulch won’t keep squirrels away, so you’ll need to use another method. Source: pixabay

*Note that this method does leave the bulbs exposed to squirrels, at least in the case of tulips and crocuses, the only two commonly grown bulbs that squirrels deign to eat. Read Protecting Bulbs from Squirrels to know how to keep them away. For example, you could cover the planting, over top of the mulch, with chicken wire and secure it with stakes. That way, squirrels won’t be able to touch the bulbs.

Reference: Toil-free tulips20171029A ENG

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