Best Spring Bulbs for the Great Lakes Region
Spring Bulbs, Spring Flowers
You have the benefit of a climate moderated by the Great Lakes. However, you can experience fairly extreme climate changes and often heavy winds. Choosing shorter, sturdier cultivars that stand up better to the windy conditions may be appropriate, depending on local conditions. Later blooming cultivars may be less affected by late freezes but their flowers may not last as long if hot spells hit in late spring.
Optimum Planting Time: September 15th — November 15th
USDA Hardiness Zones: 5, 6, 7
- Plant bulbs in the fall, starting when nighttime temperatures stay between 40-50°F. But, be sure to plant approximately six weeks before the ground freezes to allow sufficient time for rooting. Bulbs will root best in cool soil and once rooted undergo natural changes that keep them from freezing. Water your bulbs after planting to help them start the rooting process.
- After planting, apply slow-release "bulb food" fertilizer on the top of the ground to supply nutrients for the second year's bloom. (Bulbs are already fully charged with energy for peak flowering performance in their first spring bloom season.) Do not put the fertilizer in the hole with the bulb as this may burn the bulb's tender roots.
- Please note: Modern bone meal generally has little value as a bulb fertilizer and often draws rodents and dogs that dig up the bulbs looking for bones!
- After the ground cools or freezes, cover your bulb beds with a lightweight mulch (pine needles, buckwheat hulls, straw, or chopped-up leaves) 2 — 4 inches thick to help keep down weeds and maintain a consistently cool soil temperature.
Deer can be a major problem with edible tulips and lilies. Cornell University trials of products such as Deer Off, which must be applied at emergence and until bloom, have had some success.
Top picture is courtesy of Peter Wiezoreck
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.