Planting Spring Bulbs in Austin

Six months ago we bought our house in North Austin, and since then we’ve been working hard on the inside. Then the Austin summer hit, and temps stayed above 100° for 2 months.  Just about everything in the unkept backyard died.  Including my lawn.  This was not the time to start a new project for me in the backyard.  I’m not the kind of guy to plant things fast just to have them look nice.  Instead I like to follow the seasonal planting cycle.

But then things changed.

We all know Central Texas has some strange weather, because as soon as Fall arrived  the rains came – 5 inches in a day.  It’s a real yo-yo weather pattern.  But since fall is now here, it’s time to plant those spring bulbs.  I’m not really sure if Tulips will grow in Austin, so I didn’t invest much effort or money just in case.

While at Costco the other day, I saw these bags of 50 tulip bulbs for like 15 bucks.  So I picked up a couple of bags.  I knew just the right spot, against the back fence where there is a lot of morning light.

Each bag had 2 tulip varieties – the first contained Red Riding Hood and Mary Ann.  These are early spring bloomers – that are a great red and pink color.  The other bag contained Syaeda Amor and Hauran varities – purple bulbs that bloom in mid spring.  I planted them  arranged in a big row with the taller ones in the back (I think). I’m sure I could have done more to prepare the beds like add some amendments or fertilizer or something, but I’ll add some top-dressing mulch which should do the job.

But first I started by planting some Blue Lobelia to use as a border between the turf grass and the planting bed.  I’m not a fan of pre-made borders – you know the metal lawn edging, or bender board.  I’ve spent hours looking for a modern lawn edging, with no success.  I thought about pouring a concrete border, but that was too permanent for me (and expensive), so I decided to go natural, and let the plants define their spaces.  Later in the year, we’re planning on putting in some decomposed granite and flagstone, to define the spaces a little more, but until then this flat of low growing blue flowering groundcover will work just fine.

All in all it took a couple of hours – I needed to prep the bed a bit and pull out some weeds, then lay out the Lobelia at regular intervals. Once the small holes were dug, it didn’t take long to finish the border ground cover. Then I carefully laid out the bulbs, and put each in it’s own spot, covering them over with the recommended 6-8 inches of soil.

Now I have to grab a couple of bags of mulch to cover over the beds.

Of course the hardest part, besides the waiting until spring, will be to keep Riley out.

A prepared bed along a fence

A prepared bed along a fence
I got a flat of Blue Lobelia to use as a lawn border - I hope its not too late in the season to plant them successfully
I got a flat of Blue Lobelia to use as a lawn border – I hope its not too late in the season to plant them successfully
While picking up AA batteries the other day from Costco, for my wedding photo biz I saw these bags of bulbs - I decided to pick up a couple an plant them - if they bloom this spring, I'll be amazed.
While picking up AA batteries the other day from Costco, for my wedding photo biz I saw these bags of bulbs – I decided to pick up a couple an plant them – if they bloom this spring, I’ll be amazed.
Tulip bulbs from Costco are arranged for height, color, and blooming cycle.
Tulip bulbs from Costco are arranged for height, color, and blooming cycle.  Notice the Rain lilies going to seed in the foreground.

A broken trowel