Spring ahead with your sale by planting bulbs

Outdoor Living

Planting bulbs can help you plan ahead for spring, whether you’re anticipating putting your home on the market (or if it’s unfortunately still for sale), or as a nice surprise for your buyers.

“The best time to do spring flowering bulbs is in fall. You can start in October, and you plant them all the way up until December,” said Kathryn Moomaw, senior horticulturist at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. “The weather is still nice enough if you’re willing to get out there.”

Whether you’re in the habit of planting bulbs or considering updating your garden for springtime curb appeal, here are the basics on bulbs.

Why to plant bulbs

It’s easy even for novices to plant bulbs, which don’t require much tending during the winter.

With a minimal investment, you can buy enough bulbs to make a show in the spring with a succession of blooms. You don’t want to spend a lot of money, but you want to create enough of a display to make the difference between your home and one down the street.

At some stores, 25 bulbs are available for $10, but Moomaw said it’s important to buy enough for a big swatch that will make a statement. To do that, plan to budget $30 to $40.

“When you decide it’s time to move, what you want to do is to enhance what you already have and get a large bang for your buck,” said Deb Harrison, owner of Habersham Gardens, an independent garden center in Atlanta.

Blooming flowers can make a home appear more put together and maintained. Carefree bulbs such as daffodils are a smart option for sellers whose house is empty while they await a sale, Moomaw said.

“Your pansies and violas are not going to work because there is nobody there to take care of them. Your bulbs don’t need anybody to take care of them,” she said. “They’re going to come up in the spring, whether the house is empty or lived in.”

When to plant

Look for a chill in the air. November is a great time because of cooler night temperatures, in the 40s or 50s, and daytime temps in the 50s and 60s, comfortable enough for digging in the dirt.

“Bulbs need a chilling period. They need to be in the ground for a little while. They need to establish themselves in the ground, but they also like it cold when they’re in the ground,” Moomaw said.

Before digging in, you’ll want to find a spot with at least six to 10 hours of direct light per day, according to the University of Georgia’s Cooperative Extension Service.

Bulbs should be planted two to three times the depth of the bulb. So a daffodil bulb that’s 2 to 3 inches in diameter needs to be about 6 to 7 inches in the soil.

What to plant

Bulbs typically make a spectacular show for about three weeks during the spring, boosting your curb appeal.

“Your property might be viewed more favorably simply because there are beautiful flowers blooming,” Moomaw said.

There are hundreds of types of bulbs, but here are three bulbs that local experts say are often the first choices. They’re found at garden stores, big retailers such as Wal-Mart, Costco and Sam’s Club, and from companies such as Virginia-based Brent and Becky’s Bulbs (brentandbeckysbulbs.com).

1. Daffodils: Come March, these foolproof flowers can give a burst of sunshine to your yard. "If a homeowner did nothing else, daffodils would be the one because they're a perennial bulb and they're very, very reliable," Moomaw said.

Homes with big swatches of ivy are perfect places for daffodils, which return and multiply, Harrison said. “They look fabulous,” she said. “Coming up through that green, that sunny yellow, it’s just a gorgeous little sight.”

2. Crocus: Many colors are available, including yellows, purples, whites and lavenders, for this member of the iris family. They are best planted in a group, to greet guests walking up the driveway or front walk. They also bloom earlier than daffodils. "They're the harbinger of spring," Moomaw said.

3. Tulips: Tulips can be gorgeous, but they're a one-time show, since they are not a perennial bulb in Georgia. Instead of spending the effort to plant them, consider placing them in a pot on the front porch or entryway to make the home look so welcoming that people will want to walk inside, Harrison said.