Finding the bulbs already planted- how?

brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)February 6, 2010

I have a nice little bulb garden and I add bulbs to it every year, unfortunately, I have trouble not disturbing the bulbs already in it. How do you keep from disturbing the bulbs that are already there but still dormant? So far, I have not figured out a good way to mark what is there. Suggestions? Thanks, Brandyray

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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Since no one has replied, I'll take a stab at this, but I don't know if I would say I have the "best" way.

I cut vinyl window blind slats into six inch pieces. Then I stick one in front of each bulb as I go, leaving about an inch above the ground. When I add mulch on top, you cannot see the slats, but if you get down and start moving around the mulch, you'll see them. It sure does help in the fall at planting time.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 4:58PM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

Thank you, Donna. That is a very creative (and inexpensive) way of doing it. Since posting this question, I have been thinking about it, and I have come up w/ an idea that might work- to use a thin bamboo stake to probe an area before digging- if it hits something, I'll move over to a different spot. I guess this would not work in clay, but it is all sand here, so maybe it will work, and I can use your trick for marking the ones I plant. It's worth trying. Brandyray

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 6:20PM
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keithf25(8)

I have considered doing a 'photographic survey', so to speak, of my bulbs when they are in bloom to keep track of what is planted where. This will not account for naturalizing, but may give me a general idea of where things are.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 1:47PM
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dyhgarden(7b)

My husband has suggested colored golf tees pushed into the ground. Seems like a great idea, but I've never tried it. I disturb my share and try to put them back!

Cameron

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 7:21PM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

Various markers don't seem to work well- names fade, markers get knocked over, disappear, etc. Maybe I could get some small rocks and label them for each of my really special plants and just set them on the ground in front of the plant, then I'd be able to see the labels once the foliage dies down in the fall. I suspect I have killed a bulb here and there when I was planting new ones because I didn't know there was already one planted there.
I do have photos but I don't find them very helpful in terms of figuring out where there are open spots- I probably already have too many planted! Brandyray

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 8:46PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

If you're really hardcare about this, I can recommend a really good label. I found a label maker at Office Depot that has a special tape that is recommended for indoor/outdoor use. I have used it for marking daylilies and special cultivars around the yard and have found it to be very long lasting. I have had it at least 2 or 3 years now and no labels have needed replacing yet. It costs more and is more trouble, but the results are excellent. (You could put these labels on the vinyl slats in the ground.)

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 9:11AM
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kentstar(5b, NE Ohio)

The vinyl window slats sounds like a great idea! I know generally where all my bulbs are planted, but just by memory of where I planted them. I do take pics but that doesn't always help. I think I'm out of room for anymore anyways! lol

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 4:24PM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

No, Ken, you can't be out of room! 'Cause if so, I probably am too (otherwise, why would I be asking about how to find the bulbs already planted so I don't plant on top of them or cut them w/ the spade?) Surely, there's always room for one or two more? No, I am expanding into the rose garden this spring- plenty of room there. :) Brandyray

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 8:07PM
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kentstar(5b, NE Ohio)

Already planted a bunch there too lol! Of course, there's always more room in my two raised side beds... hmmm... The only problem with that bed is that it gets shade for much of the day after the trees leaf out. I have brunnera, and heuchera's planted there now. But some bulbs would be nice. I wonder what bulbs do well enough in part shade?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 9:49PM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

One I would love to grow is arum italicum- striking foliage and berries. Also hellebores, banana plants, lily of the valley, eucomis, amorphophallus, uvalaria, cyclamen, oxalis, dicentra. Even more choice if you do have some sun there- possibly daylilies, cannas, lycoris, caladiums, anemones. I can tell you that the hellebores are stubborn plants. While mine has not really grown (nor flowered), it is planted in mostly sand under tall pine trees and has not had any care- but it lives on. Sounds like an excellent idea (expanding). Brandyray

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 10:24PM
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pippi21(Z7 Silver Spring, Md.)

I'm dealing with the same critis and thought not only would I take a photo when in bloom but trying to decide what to use to mark the areas where planted. I have plenty of miniblind slats, why not paint them a similar color of the blooming bulb, and label with paint pen. At end of season after the leaves have died down and I want to dig them up, and replant them in same color scheme, I could. Don't know if this is a good workable idea or not.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 7:37AM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

It sounds like a good idea, Pippi. I wonder how the paint will hold up? Fortunately, I do not have to dig mine up at the end of the season, but I have damaged bulbs before by not knowing exactly where they were planted, which is why I asked for help. Brandyray

    Bookmark   February 25, 2010 at 7:47PM
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cynthianovak

if you give up on labeling the area and accept that you have a need to keep planting and there are sales! and you have some smaller bulbs to plant....use a Dibble. It has a point and smooth cylindrical shape so it slips between the resting bulbs. You can slip more in without destroying the others.

Of course, it would be nice to know where they actually are!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 7:15PM
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keriann_lakegeneva(5B WI/IL border)

I went through this a few years ago...

So now I always plant bulbs (Spring Blooming) with summer blooming flowers so I know not to disturb the area in the spring when I am itching to plant. And it also helps to hide the fading foliage of the bulbs. In my glad cutting garden, I mark the rows with string and keep it in place with large landscape fabric staples. In the fall I find the string (usually under mulch and a bit of soil by the end of the season) and lift the bulbs, I have not missed one yet.

Why do you need to find the bulbs? If it is just to add more, I would wait until the ones in the ground show life and then mark the spots where you can plant, opposed to where you can not plant.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2010 at 10:06AM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

Thank you, Cynthia. I will have to google "dibble". It sounds as if it would be a useful tool to have.
You are probably right, Keriann, I should just wait until the bulbs are up. I think though that some of them do not emerge til late spring (maybe the frittilaria and amaryllis) and I have discovered too late when I was digging a hole to plant new bulbs that I had cut through one already planted. I have gotten several useful suggestions here so hopefully one will work for me. Brandyray

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 6:45AM
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cynthianovak

I have one that looks like the Rumford Dibble. It makes a nice hole. Big enough for modest daffs. and large tulips. I love it for planting through other plants or bulbs. Just push it into the soil and move it around and around to make the size hole you want. Great for seedlings because the time makes root room or a place for the bulb to get a start.

I had no idea how many pricey ones are out there. Never heard of handmade wooden ones until now. The aluminum one had enough weight to push down but is also fairly light. I really do push down on the handle for bulbs so it's nice to have one I can really lean on if I need to.

c

Here is a link that might be useful: Aluminum dibble

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 10:01PM
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