Some tips for moving your tulips

I have some tulips I need to move because a nearby bush is growing too close to them and crowding them out. When and how should I do this?

— Sharon

There are two ways to do this. The first way is to wait until the foliage of the tulips starts dying down in a month or so. Dig them up and plant them where you want them.

Be sure to do a GREAT job amending the soil by mixing in a good amount of decomposed organic matter such as Soil Pep before replanting them. Work the Soil Pep half and half with your garden soil and go down 12–18 inches so there’s good soil beneath the bulbs.

Tulips really want good drainage, and that’s hard to find with our heavy clays unless you really work the soil.

The second way is to mark where the tulips are with some stakes, and wait to do all this in October. This is the time of the year when we plant new tulips and it tends to work a bit better than planting them in June.

But you’ve got to do is mark their location because if you don’t, I can just about guarantee you won’t remember exactly where they are. When you have to guess and just start digging around to find them, you usually end up finding just half a tulip.

 

I am planning out a flowerbed and trying to find good plants for a spot that is almost always in the shade. I am looking for nice flower/ground cover mixes. Do you have any suggestions?

— Shay

There are a number of great choices for shady spots. In annual flowers, good choices would be pansies, violas, impatiens, begonias, coleus, ageratum, fuchsia, nasturtium, nemesia, lobelia, torenia, China asters and bacopa.

Annuals for foliage would be sweet potato vine, asparagus fern and dichondra.

I also like mixing some perennials into a bed to cut down on the amount of planting you have to do each spring replacing the annuals. A perennial won’t bloom consistently through the summer like many annuals do so I’ll focus on interesting foliage to provide background and texture to the bed.

Good perennial choices are hosta, ajuga, coral bells, hardy geraniums, foamy bells, sweet woodruff and varieties of trailing vinca.

One thing to keep in mind is that not all shade is the same and some of these plants will do better in darker conditions and some better with a bit more light. Since it’s difficult to make hard and fast rules about these things, do a mixture of lots of different things.

Getting it “perfect” is usually a matter of some trial and error over a couple of seasons, so doing different things will show you what does well and where.

 

Can I divide my allium bulbs this spring or is there a better time to do that?

— Carolyn

First, wait until the foliage of the plant dies down late this spring or early summer. You can then dig up the bulb to divide it.

It would probably be a little better if you waited until early September to do it, but you’ll have to carefully mark where the bulb is since the foliage will be long gone by then.

When removing them, carefully pull the bulbs apart and plant them back into the yard. If one of the bulbs is small, I think it’s best to leave it attached to a larger bulb until it grows a bit before trying to divide it.

Be sure to do a good job amending the soil beneath the bulb before replanting since they like loose, well-drained soil.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, bookcliffgardens.com. Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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