Bulbs Gardening

Let Grape Hyacinths Tell You Where to Plant!

A circle of grape hyacinths will show where the other bulbs were planted. Source: http://www.dobies.co.uk

You’re out in the fall with your shovel and fall bulbs, ready to add even more color to your flower bed. There is just one catch: you planted bulbs in previous years (tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, etc.) and know that they’re still there, sleeping underground in your flower bed … but where exactly?

In the spring, it’s obvious: their leaves and flowers are clearly visible! But in the fall, you see absolutely nothing: the bulbs are completely hidden under the ground. And you don’t want to dig up the “old” bulbs by accident while planting the new ones!

Circles of Grape Hyacinths

20181016B www.cliparthut.com, www.turpinlandscapedesign, melbournechapter.net & clipartxtras.com
Plant grape hyacinth bulbs around your other bulbs and, over the coming years, their fall leaves will tell you which spaces are occupied. Source: http://www.cliparthut.com, http://www.turpinlandscapedesign, melbournechapter.net & clipartxtras.com, montage: gardenerparesseux.com

Here is an old trick to try: when you plant bulbs, surround them with a circle of grape hyacinth bulbs, also simply called muscaris (Muscari armeniacum). They’re small, inexpensive bulbs, so you can afford to use them generously.

Muscaris, unlike other fall bulbs whose foliage that doesn’t appear until spring, produce their narrow grasslike leaves in the fall, leaves that will last until spring. They don’t bloom in the fall (rather in mid-spring), but they do leaf out in the fall.

So, in the future, when you see a circle of muscari leaves appear in fall, you’ll know that there are other bulbs planted in the center and will therefore know to plant new bulbs elsewhere.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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