Now is the time to plan, prepare, and plant your warm-weather bulbs. Care for cold-damaged bulbs and choose the right ones for difficult growing conditions. Abide by depth and spacing recommendations, water regularly, and begin a spring fertilizing program.
With the passing of the last frosts and the approach of warmer weather, February is the time for serious bulb planning and planting. Let’s take a look at February and March bulb care tasks for Florida gardeners.
Take stock of your garden, noting any available spots to fill, older plantings to remove, and bulbs that need to be replanted. If you have removed older plants or are preparing a space for new plantings, set aside adequate time to prepare the soil.
You may notice bare spots that could use some fill or color but have difficult growing conditions. Bulbs might be just what you need here. There’s a bulb for almost every condition: caladiums or blood lilies grow well in low light, elephant ears and many canna varieties thrive in moist soil, and amaryllis and day lily will do just fine in dry spots where the only water comes from rain.
Preparation and Care
If you spot bulbs that have been lifted out of the soil, they’ll need to be examined, carefully dug up, and replanted. Most tropical varieties do not take kindly to being above ground when the temperature drops below 55 degrees.
If a bulb was exposed to cold temperatures:
- Carefully dig up the bulb by first loosening soil with a digging fork
- Remove any rotting portions of a damaged bulb
- Allow the bulb to dry in a warm and shaded location before replanting
Always follow the planting instructions that come with your bulbs. Pay close attention to recommended planting depth and spacing.
When you are ready to plant, dig a hole or trench at the appropriate planting depth. Fill in around the bulbs, adding water to create a muddy paste if the soil is dry. Cover the bulbs with a thin layer of mulch and water the site well.
If you are transplanting any caladium, canna, or blood lily, or similar bulbs, do this in early March so that they have plenty of time to bloom.
Bulbs need moist soil to grow, bloom and reproduce. Since this is still Florida’s dry season, check your planting sites twice a week and give your bulbs ½ to ¾ inch of water when the soil surface is dry to the touch. Apply a layer of mulch, 2 to 3 inches thick, to prevent the soil from drying out. And remove any weeds, as they will be competing with the bulbs for moisture.
Again, when it comes to watering, make sure to look at the specific watering instructions for each type of bulb you plant. Some need wet, almost bog-like conditions and will require more frequent watering.
Bulbs do not require heavy fertilizing, but now is the time to begin a spring feeding schedule for your warm-season bulbs since they are in the active growth stage and will utilize the nutrients. Scatter a granular garden fertilizer over the soil surface and water immediately after application.