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Planting Bulbs: 5 Tips for Success

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Fall-planted bulbs can be true treasures for the garden. They're planted at a time of few other garden chores, in blissfully cool weather. Their fresh foliage and colorful flowers that appear in spring are true joy after winter's bleak scenery. And it feels like magic—all that beauty from what is now just brownish lump in the palm of your hand.

Daffodils and hyacinth bloom in spring from fall-planted bulbs.

Daffodils and hyacinth bloom in spring from fall-planted bulbs.

 Keep these five points in mind as you're planting bulbs this fall.

1. Get a tulip reality check. Many tulips won't perform well past their first spring, so resolve to treat them as annuals. The best bets as "perennials" are Darwin Hybrids, Single Earlies, Single Lates and Species Tulips.

2. Go for critter-resistant types. If you've had problems with squirrels, rabbits, deer and other animals, stick with daffodils, alliums, scilla and snowdrops.

3. Skip the bone meal and fertilizer. Bone meal will just encourage animals to dig, and newly planted bulbs don't need food. Add fertilizer next spring, after they've bloomed.

4. Pot the bulbs, then plant the pot. Bury it just up to its rim. When the bulbs sprout in spring, dig it up and set it anywhere for a showpiece container planting.

5. Know how deep to plant. The packaging should say how deep to dig, but in general bulbs should be planted in holes 3 to 4 times their own height. (A 1-inch crocus goes in a 3- or 4-inch hole.)