It may be July, but it's time to think spring

  • Pink tulips, white daffodils and blue muscari (aka grape hyacinths) are colorful companions in the garden bed.

    Pink tulips, white daffodils and blue muscari (aka grape hyacinths) are colorful companions in the garden bed. Stock photo

 
By Tim Johnson
Chicago Botanic Garden
Posted7/29/2022 7:00 AM

It is time to plan for and order spring flowering bulbs for your garden. The soil in a bulb garden should be well-drained. Any area in the garden that remains wet for long periods of time or has standing water for any length of time is unsuitable for bulbs. They prefer moisture in spring and fall and to dry out in the summer. Most prefer full sun.

When planted beneath a high branching tree, bulbs will often flower before the tree leafs out and will have only light shade to contend with as they store energy for blooming the following year. Daffodils, ornamental onions, Siberian squill, snowdrops and winter aconite are recommended for areas where deer and rabbits are present. Crocuses and tulips tend to be eaten first so avoid those if your garden has issues with rabbits, chipmunks and deer.

 
Gladiolus produces a large, showy flower that looks great in the garden, or in a vase indoors. Stagger the planting of gladioli to extend the flower show.
Gladiolus produces a large, showy flower that looks great in the garden, or in a vase indoors. Stagger the planting of gladioli to extend the flower show. - Courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden

• The gladiolus produces a large, showy flower spike that lasts for several days whether in the garden or in a vase. To get the most out of a bloom for decoration inside, cut when the lowest blossoms have begun to show color. Place the cut stem in water as quickly as you can.

Stagger the planting of gladioli to provide flowers over a longer period. It is best to cut the flower stems early in the morning, before the heat of the day sets in, and get them in water quickly.

• Do not forget to check the oil and clean out the air filter on your gas-powered lawn mower on a regular basis. The engine can be ruined by letting it run out of oil. The dust raised when mowing can clog up the air filter, which will impair performance of the engine. Sharpen the blades about once every eight hours of cutting.

• Tim Johnson is director of horticulture at Chicago Botanic Garden, chicagobotanic.org.

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