Last Minute Tips for Small Bulbs

OK, admit it. Like me you probably have a few packages of bulbs languishing around the garage or shed, still waiting to be planted. If they are not totally dessicated or moldy (and they are probably not – can’t get off the hook that easily) there is still time to plant them before the ground freezes. And here’s my secret technique for lightning-fast small bulb planting – the dibble.

Your new best friend – the dibble – AKA a wooden plant label.

Let’s step back a moment. The problem with small bulbs is that they are not particularly effective unless they are planted in large numbers – say, in multiples of a hundred. The issue with that is, unless you’re planting virgin bed space, how do you get so many bulbs in and around established plantings? The answer: the dibble, an ancient tool, nothing more than a pointed stick. No dibbles in your garden shed? Do what I do: reuse a 10″ wooden planting label. In fact, these labels are almost custom designed for small bulb planting. In well prepared soil, simply slice down with your label, press sideways to form a small cavity, pop in the bulb, and release. Presto! On to the next! This technique is ideal for planting small bulbs such as crocus, pushkinia, muscari, or anemones in established perennial beds, where the small bulbs will dominate the spring show, and just as their foliage begins to wither, be covered by the larger plants. (Yes, a trowel will work too, but the narrow dibble is easier to insert and creates just the right sized holed.)  Last week I planted about 400 giant crocus in 30 minutes using this method.

So no more excuses about not having time! Get those last bulbs in the ground now! You and your garden will be glad you did.


Last Minute Tips for Small Bulbs — 2 Comments

  1. I thought I was late planting my bulbs in RI the day after Thanksgiving. Glad to hear I am in good company! (Some of the bulbs were planted in a brand new small bed.)

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