How to plant tulips that last and keep squirrels away!

Ciscoe Morris joined us to share her advice. Hint: you’re going to need some hot sauce! #newdianw

Fill your spring garden with spectacular color by planting spring-blooming bulbs this fall. The best thing about spring-blooming bulbs is that they already have a flower ready when you plant them, so unless your soil is pure clay and the bulbs rot in our rainy winters, or are eaten by squirrels, they can’t help it. to flourish . They also do very well planted in containers, so even if you live in a condo, if you have a balcony, all you need is a frost-proof pot and you can create a colorful spring display too.

Spring-blooming bulbs need at least 10 to 12 weeks in cool soil to establish the roots needed to flower, so be sure to plant them in late November. When planting, mix organic bulb food and bone meal into the soil, and water to remove any potential air pockets. Try to plant them in an area that doesn’t get watered too often. In summer, constant watering can cause the bulbs to rot. Next spring give the bulbs a nutritional boost by working an organic bulb food around the plants as soon as buds begin to emerge. Wait to cut foliage until it dies completely to allow the plant to store as much energy as possible in the bulb.

Choose a mix of varieties that bloom early, mid and late in the season, and your spring-blooming bulbs will put on a colorful display that lasts well into summer.

Perhaps the most popular of all spring-blooming bulbs are tulips. Unfortunately, most fancy tulips don’t like our rainy winters and often don’t re-bloom much after the first year.

If you have well-drained soil, try planting the bulbs 12 inches deep. Using this technique, I have had Darwin and Empress Hybrids come back and bloom for over 10 years straight…

Another method is to plant species of tulips. The flowers are smaller but they make up for their small stature with vibrant colors and a strong build. Some of my favorites that have come back and bloomed for me every spring for years are Tulipa bakeri ‘Lilac wonder’ (lilac flowers with a yellow center) the unpronounceable T. kolpakowskiana (yellow flowers, with red stripes) and the even harder to pronounce , T. vvedenskyi ‘Tangerine Beauty’ (red flowers veined with orange flame).

If squirrels tend to eat tulip bulbs, protect them by surrounding them with chicken wire when planting. If the squirrels have a habit of eating the buds when they emerge in the spring, as they did to me, buy some ghost pepper sauce and add enough water to it so you can spray it with a spray bottle. Spray it liberally on the buds, but protect your eyes, this is hot. The only mammal on earth that doesn’t hate hot peppers is humans. Enjoy watching the squirrels yell ‘ahooa’ as they run towards a water source after biting. If that doesn’t work, buy a Jack Russell terrier and make sure the first word he learns is ‘Squirrel’.

Fortunately, there are plenty of spring-blooming bulbs out there that those fuzzy little troublemakers don’t bother with. Snowdrops (Galanthus) are among the first to bloom, often emerging from the snow. Prized by collectors, these small but showy members of the Amaryllis family are virtually indestructible and form groups of impressive size over time.

Daffodils and all types of daffodils have poisonous bulbs that squirrels don’t touch, and hyacinth bulbs also contain toxins that keep squirrels away. A real charm that squirrels leave alone is Chionodoxa (glory of snow). It is easy to grow and although the attractive blue flowers are small, they often reseed themselves to form large colonies over time.

Finally, one of my longtime favorites is Fritillaria. Squirrels never bother these unique and colorful spring bloomers. In fact, old gardeners often plant the bulbs of F. imperialis ‘Imperial Crown’ with their tulips, because the large, beautiful orange or yellow flowers smell like a fox and repel squirrels as well as rabbits and the deer Finally, and most importantly, don’t forget to plant them. There’s nothing worse than finding a forgotten bag of spring-blooming bulbs in the garage in the spring!

The place to find most of these bulbs and millions of others is at the Hardy Plant Society of Washington’s annual Fall Plant and Bulb Sale, held Oct. 16 at the Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st St. in Seattle. Find more information at

Segment Producer Suzie Wiley. Watch New Day Northwest at 11 am weekdays in KING 5 and live stream on Contact New Day.