Fall Bulb Basics - "Dr. Z's" Tip of the Week

Fall is Bulb Time!  Here are the most common questions asked of "Dr. Z." this week:
Can fall bulbs be planted now?
Yes.  In fact October is a great time to plant them since the weather is still nice enough to be comfortable outside, and it is late enough that the bulbs should not sprout up out of the ground before winter. However, bulbs can be planted up until the ground freezes.
How deep should bulbs be planted?
There are a bunch of "rules of thumb" concerning this topic depending on which source of gardening lore is consulted.  Ours is the hole should be three times the height of the bulb.  So the bigger the bulb, the deeper the hole would be.  Plant the bulb with the pointed end up!
Should the bulbs be fertilized when planting?
Yes.  Fertilizing will help the bulb establish a good root system thus getting it off to a good start.   Use a bulb food with a high "middle" number, which is the phosphorus component.  If rodents are a problem, try a chemical based fertilizer.  If they are not, then apply an organic type as this is preferred.  An organic fertilizer will feed the bulb slowly over time.  We suggest Espomas' Bulbtone.
Can bulbs be protected against rodents?
There are many methods that can be employed to repel the rodents.  The best way is prior to planting, soak the bulbs for a few minutes in a liquid repellent.  Let them dry off and then plant.  The goal is to mask the smell of the bulb from the rodent using the odor of the repellent.   Bobbex R is an excellent repellent for this purpose.
Do bulbs need to be planted in the sun?
The majority of them do.  But remember that many times bulbs are being planted under deciduous trees where the sun will be on them all winter and for a good deal of the spring.  This situation will work out fine.
One last tip.  Be sure to water your bulb bed thoroughly after planting.