Basics for Beautiful Bulbs!

Fall has arrived!

I love the fall season. Some gardeners give up after September, because they think there’s nothing left to do. It is true that with the cooler weather and holidays upon us, there may not be much time left to enjoy your garden before winter.

But, don’t fret, fellow gardener: There is still time to do some bulb planting! In fact, most flower bulbs have to be planted in the fall, because they need a dormancy period time to become rooted before they can bloom big and boldly in the spring. Planting bulbs is very simple, and the great thing about ordering from the Spring Hill catalog or website is that we ship our plants and bulbs to you at exactly the right planting time for your region and zone.

Stargazer Lily from Gurneys Seed & Nursery

Stargazer Lily from Gurney's Seed & Nursery

Planting Bulbs

Bulbs are usually planted before the first hard frost. In colder northern climates, this will usually be October or early November; in warmer climates, December may be the best month. If Mother Nature isn’t providing your area with cool temperatures, you can do so yourself by prepping your bulbs in the refrigerator for 6-8 weeks.

When the time comes, plant your bulbs with the pointy end facing skyward at a depth that is twice as deep as the bulb is tall. When you’re planting just a few bulbs, the easiest way is to dig a series of holes, each hole large enough to accommodate four or five bulbs. If you’re planting en masse, you can either dig a trench (for a nice, long swath of blooms), or get a special gardening awl attachment for your power drill to dig each hole individually.

Bulb needs

After filling the holes, lay 2-3” of mulch (compost, straw or leaves). Mulch is especially helpful in cold or dry climates because it insulates the soil and maintains even soil moisture. Additionally, mulch inhibits weed growth and prevents soil from splashing onto flowers and foliage during watering or periods of rain.

Typically, bulbs do well in areas with partial to full sun. Soils should be well aerated and well drained, slightly acidic (pH 6-7), and cultivated to a depth of about 8-12”. I recommend adding decomposed organic material, as this will improve moisture retention.

During their growing or blooming seasons, give your bulbs a deep watering when natural rainfall is less than 1” per week. Most bulbs benefit from a fertilizer such as bonemeal.

And there you have it! For ease of planting and show stopping color, nothing beats flower bulbs. Click here to see Spring Hill’s huge selection of flower bulbs!

So Happy Together – Companion Planting

When I was planting this year’s garden, I decided this time I was going to mix things up a bit! In the past I’ve always planted flowers together in beds and vegetables in their own plot. As I was reading about companion plantings this spring, I learned that it works best when growing a diversity of plants: a medley of flowers and herbs among some vegetables, and a vegetable or two tucked away in a flower bed.

Three Seasons of Beauty Garden - Spring Hill NurseriesCompanion planting is combining the right plants together to provide nutrients, protect against disease, repel pests and attract beneficial insects. Generations of gardeners have taken advantage of these natural relationships and benefits. Here are some tips for companion planting, depending on what you want to accomplish:

Plants that nourish ― like lupines, peas and beans ― can pull nitrogen from the air and transform it into a usable nutrient in the soil.

Plants that protect against disease ― like garlic, onions and chives will help prevent black spot on roses and scab on apples. And those pesky dandelions will deter fusarium wilt (a fungal disease) from attacking your tomatoes.

Plants that repel unwanted insects ― like lavender, sage, oregano or other strong-scented herbs will scare off aphids. Some plants, like marigolds, contain thiopene in their roots which are toxic to certain soil-dwelling nematodes. This makes them a great companion for tomatoes and beans. Still other plants ― like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower ― although safe for us to eat, can poison spider mites, mosquitoes. Japanese beetles will be done-in by white geraniums and larkspur.

Plants that attract beneficial insects ― like sunflowers, zinnias and coreopsis attract lady beetles, lacewings, and hover flies for example. These beneficial adults and their larvae feed on the unwanted insects. Thyme, parsley, and lemon balm are among a few of the herbs that also attract these helpful bugs.

I plan to mix and match these companions throughout my garden; I may even discover some beneficial combinations on my own. The end result is bound to be a healthier, more beautiful and productive garden.

Mulch Ado About Nothing

So I recently mulched my garden, as we’ve been getting some crazy heat here in the Midwest these past few weeks, and I thought I would write a blog post about the importance of mulching, along with some great mulching tips.

Mulching is one of the best things you can do for your plants. Mulching protects your plants from extreme temperatures, keeps moisture in, and keeps down nasty weeds (which seem to have no trouble growing in ANY climate!).

There are two types of mulch: Inorganic mulch and organic mulch. Inorganic mulches like stones, gravel, plastic sheets, and landscape fabric, are used mostly for weed control and moisture retention in permanent beds. They don’t decompose, which means they will last a long time, but they won’t contribute any nutrients to the soil.

Organic mulches include bark mulch, wood chips, grass clippings, straw and compost. Bark mulch is probably the most common organic mulch, and it’s a good choice. Aged bark mulch is awesome and probably the best out there, but it can be more expensive.

Try to only buy bark mulch that has been composted for at least one year. Wood chips and sawdust have the same benefits as bark mulch, and it’s cheaper, but it won’t last as long. Arguably the cheapest mulch is grass clippings and shredded leaves. And for being free, they work pretty well as a mulch, as long as they are dried before being laid down. Grass clippings also won’t last very long, but they will add great nutrients to your soil. Make sure you avoid using grass that has been treated with chemicals.

Compost is my personal favorite mulch. Mostly because it’s cheap, but also because it can be used anywhere in the yard, and it feeds the soil good nutrients as it decomposes.

Some other tips: Spreading mulch too deep will suffocate your plants. Spread wood-based mulches about 2″ deep; grass, leaves and straw should be about 3-4″. For inorganic mulches, spread a layer only think enough to prevent weeds. Always leave an inch or two around the base of the plant to allow air to circulate. With trees, leave about 4″ of space.

Here’s a little video we did about this very subject. View, and enjoy.

Happy Earth Day, 2011 – Plant a Tree!

Japanese Red Maple from Spring Hill NurseryHappy Earth Day, fellow gardeners! In case you didn’t know, today, April 22, is Earth Day 2011. It’s a day when people take a step back and reflect upon nature, our environment, and what we can do to preserve it. At Spring Hill Nurseries, it’s not only our business to care about nature, it’s our passion. I’m sure many of you are passionate about nature, as well. Whether you enjoy gardening on a cool spring day, or volunteering for a local environmental organization, you’re doing your part to help our planet.

In celebration of Earth Day 2011, we thought it would be a good idea to present a little instructional video on how to plant a tree or small shrub. You can, of course, buy trees and small shrubs at

The great thing about planting trees in early spring is that the soil is warming up, but the air is still cool. This means your plants can thrive and have enough time to establish before summer without having to worry about being burned by the heat.

When you’re preparing a hole for your new tree or shrub, make the hole about two or three times wider then the root ball, don’t make it any deeper than the plant was in its previous soil. Also, try and use as much of the original soil as possible, as this is what the plant is used to and it will have a better chance of thriving. Place your root ball into the soil, and leave about a third of the root ball higher than the surrounding soil level. Then just taper up the soil to cover the roots. Water your plant but don’t soak it. Mulch the plant with about 3 inches of organic matter, as this will help moderate the soil temperature.

How to Grow and Care for Daylilies

The daylily is a timeless gardening favorite. Not only are daylily plants beautiful, they are very easy to take care of. Make sure you clean your daylily beds each spring, fertilize in the early spring, water throughout the season, and mulch in the late fall. In this video, we provide an example of how to clean up the dead foliage around your plant. Simply pull away the dead stocks by hand or with a rake. Make sure you fertilize your daylilies once a year, in the early spring. Pick a fertilizer that is high in phosphates. Daylilies are drought tolerant, but it is good to water them at least once a week.

Planting and Care Instructions for Daylilies

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone! We here at and Spring Hill Nursery hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season. Our gift to you is small, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Daylily, Daylilies, Reblooming Daylilies, Spring HillIt’s our quick, comprehensive Daylily planting and care guide! Follow these easy tips to ensure big, beautiful blooms from your daylily bulbs this spring!

Basic Facts about Daylilies: Daylilies are tough plants that are easy to grow. They tolerate dry conditions, take summer’s worst heat, grow in most any soil as long as it is well-drained, and live for years. Plant them in the border mixed among other perennials, use as an edging for a larger space, or simply group them in a bed for a mass display. The foliage is generally 18 inches tall and wide, with the flower stems 2-3 feet tall.

Hardiness Zones: 4-9
Grow best in: Sun/Part shade

Planting Daylilies: Plant in full sun (for the most bloom) to a little shade (for the pastel colors). Set Daylilies home 18 to 24 inches apart in average garden soil that is well drained; it helps to add substantial amounts of compost, aged manure and/or leaf mold when working up your dirt and preparing the hole or bed for planting. Make your hole 2 times as wide as the tuberous roots spread out horizontally, and about a foot deep. Place your modified soil in the hole to form a mound in the middle, with the top of the mound slightly lower than ground level. Place the root crown on the mound, spreading the tuberous roots evenly down the sides. Finish filling the hole with soil – the crown should be barely covered. Tamp down the soil and soak with water to ensure good contact of the roots with the soil and to start growth.

Caring for Daylilies: Water in times of severe heat and drought, and mulch to conserve water. Apply a fertilizer high in phosphates one a year in spring. Reblooming Daylily types produce more blooms with a dose of 5-10-10 fertilizer after the first blooms fade. Remove the flower stalks after all the buds have opened and remove the dead foliage in winter. Divide reblooming varieties every 2 years or when the clump becomes crowded and bloom becomes less.

What is the right daylily for my garden?

When it comes to planting daylilies, I’ve always been of the opinion that “the more, the merrier”. While this is certainly true, I have recently begun to be a bit more discerning in the types of daylilies that I plant. Oh, I still fill my beds to the bursting point with these lovely perennials. But I have found, through lots of trial and error, that certain varieties are better suited for borders while other varieties work better in beds or along the grass lines of my yard.

Purple d’Oro Reblooming Daylily Now, it stands to reason that the taller the lily the more support it needs from complementary plantings. I have found this to be true only to a certain extent. I have had great success planting the taller lilies, such as Native Daylilies or Prairie Blue Eyes, along grass lines and pathways. They add substance to areas that are typically filled with more petite “anchor” plants. But I’ll admit that I sometimes like to mix it up a bit and add some shorter blooms along the edges, too.

The flower beds in my landscape seem to benefit the most from my experimentation. I really enjoy trying out unique varieties and playing with groupings and complementary plantings. Little Business is a favorite, as well as some of the double daylilies, for my “flower trials”. Due to their smaller stature, these varieties look wonderful in mass plantings and really give a sophisticated look to my beds. They play well with others, too, which is great! I really can’t give enough praise for daylilies. I recommend starting your own experiments using these versatile flowers. You won’t be disappointed—I never am. Happy gardening!

Where Did Daylilies Originate?

Daylilies belong to the genus Hemerocallis and are not true lilies. This Greek word is made up of two parts: hemera meaning day and kallos meaning beauty. This name is appropriate, because each flower lasts only one day. The daylily is originally native from temperate parts of Asia, Japan, Siberia, Korea, China, and Eurasia. Since the early 1930s, hybridizers in the United States and England have made great imrovements to this perennial.

Joan Senior Daylily Large showy flowers have made the daylily popular worldwide. They are highly diverse in color and form – a result of hybridization which is very popular among gardening enthusiasts. Originally, the only colors were yellow, orange, and a fulvous red. Today, the daylily is available in a wide spectrum of colors, and various color combinations. Over 60,000 registered cultivars exist for this perennial today.

Many species of the daylily are edible. They are used in Chinese cuisine in such dishes as hot and sour soup, daylily soup, and moo shu pork! This perennial has also been used for medicinal purposes. Some species can be toxic however, so extreme care must be used when ingesting the daylily.

The daylily is a vigorous, rugged perennial that last for years with very little care. They survive harsh winters, adapt well to most soil and light conditions and grow quickly. Each daylily plant produces an abundance of flower buds that open over a long period of time. Most do not have a scent, but there are many night blooming plants that are delightfully fragrant. The daylily is useful in the perennial flower border, planted in large masses, or as a ground cover. These “day-beauties” have come a long way, and as they continue to evolve, are destined to have a very colorful future.

Why is the daylily the perfect perennial?

As garden personalities go, I like to think of daylilies as that girl in high school who all the guys wanted to be with and all of the girls wanted to be. Remember your class’s “Best All-Around”? Yeah, that was her. She was pretty in a sunny, cheerful way, but also had that great personality that made it impossible to dislike her (much as you might have liked to). She was smart, dependable, and had that effortless ability to look great at all times while also getting along with just about everyone, making friends that ran the gamut of that tricky high school social landscape.

Ruby Spider Daylily - Daylily Plants - Spring Hill NurseriesEach time I plant a new daylily in my garden, I think of that girl. I know this one isn’t going to let me down. It’s a well-known fact that daylilies are one of the easiest, most dependable perennials one can grow. (Have you ever tried to kill them? They’re nearly impossible to mess up.) Whether you live in Anchorage or Miami, there is a daylily that will grow there. Clay soil? Sand? Loam? Daylilies can adapt to just about any soil condition in which you might decide to plant them. Increasing numbers of blooms year after year? You can count on daylilies to provide just that, while weathering wind, heat, cold, and even drought with ease and very few pest problems to speak of. You can, quite literally, plant them and forget them.

But it was only in recent years that I discovered modern daylily varieties to actually be quite a wide and varied bunch, embodying much, much more than the tall, orange “wild” types that grew in my grandmother’s garden. I was nothing short of thrilled to discover that daylilies not only come in sizes ranging from tiny dwarfs to towering scapes, but also in an array of colors whose descriptions may well be nearly as prolific (Bitones! Bicolors! Polychrome! Picotee! Dotted! Dusted! Diamond Dusted! Tipped!) as the varieties themselves. Which means that, not only is there a low-maintenance daylily to meet just about everyone’s taste and color preference, but one can also quite likely find a variety to fit nearly any area of the landscape.

My happiest discovery, though, was when I learned that daylilies are no longer limited to just a few weeks’ bloom time at the peak of summer. Sure, all daylily blooms last just one day, but breeders and hybridizers have worked their magic in the course of the past few decades to create extended bloomers, repeat bloomers, and everbloomers that bring us daylilies that will continue to produce blooms for months.

The modern daylily? Best All-Around, indeed. Happy planting.

September Spring Hill “What a Cool Photo!” Contest – Exclusive to Our Facebook Fans!

Hello, friends! We hope you’ve had a great summer and early fall so far. Fall is our favorite time of year; the weather is crisp and cool, the leaves are changing, and the colors in the garden are rich, diverse and exclusive to the season!

The new season means it’s time for another “What a Cool Photo!” Contest! This time around, the subject is “Fall Color.” From the changing leaves to hardy mums, to sunflowers to vegetables – we want to see your fall garden! This is your chance to show off both your gardening and your photography skills!

Jackmanii Clematis - Spring Hill NurseriesHow to Enter:

Step 1: Become a fan of Spring Hill Nurseries on Facebook, if you’re not one already

Step 2: Add your photo to our Facebook wall

The winner will receive a free $100 Gift Certificate to Spring Hill Nurseries!

The winning photo will be picked by Spring Hill’s team of photo-reviewing experts, who will judge entries based on the quality of the photography. The contest begins today, so start posting those cool photos! The deadline is Friday, October 1st, so hurry! The winner will be announced on Monday, October 4th.

The Details: You must be a fan of Spring Hill Nurseries on Facebook to enter. Please submit your picture as a .jpg file; you may submit no more than one image per customer. Post your picture no later than Midnight EST, October 1st, 2010. Please include a brief description of the photo, including where the picture was taken and the names of any plants shown. Contests are limited to amateur/hobby photographers. All photographs should be the work of the person submitting them, and all projects shown in the photograph should be the work of the person submitting the picture, and should be found in that person’s garden. The photos submitted shall be judged by an independent panel of judges selected by Spring Hill Nurseries. By submitting your photograph you grant Spring Hill Nurseries LLC permission to re-post your photograph on the web site: You retain the copyright and all associated rights to the photograph. For any other intended use, Spring Hill will seek the proper permissions.