As gardeners, many of us admire the abundant and welcome floral display provided by spring blooming bulbs. Unfortunately, as gardeners, many of us are also tired of garden tasks by the time autumn rolls around and neglect to add these plants to the garden in the one window of time that we can – Right Now! Taking the time this fall to plant spring blooming bulbs in your garden will provide you with years of springtime beauty.
Three Keys to Success With Bulbs
- Good Drainage: Make sure that your planting bed is well drained (adding organic matter to clay soil increases drainage). Bulbs will rot if they are planted in wet soil.
- Planting Depth: Plant your bulbs three times as deep as the height of the bulb (bulb height x3 = planting depth). Shallow planting reduces the longevity of the bulb.
- Let foliage mature: After your bulbs are done flowering fight the urge to “clean up” yellowing foliage. They need the energy from that dying foliage to restore vigor to the bulb. Do not cut down, trim or braid fading bulb foliage.
Early Season Bulbs
There are few sights more welcome than flowers emerging through the early April snow.
- Glory-of-the-Snow (Chionodoxa): Blue star-shaped flowers with white star centers. A favorite!
- Striped Squill (Pushkinia): Dainty spikes of fragrant white flowers, each delicately accented with blue.
- Crocus: The large flowering Crocus are a familiar sign of spring. Their slightly smaller cousin (the “Tommy” crocus) also blooms early but has the added benefit of not being attractive to squirrels & chipmunks.
- Dwarf Iris (Iris reticulata): Dainty miniature blue Iris flowers are among the earliest bulbs to bloom.
- Mini Daffodils (Narcissus): We carry several varieties of miniature Daffodils that bloom in earliest spring.
Mid Season Bulbs
Mid-April through May
- Hyacinth: Dense upright clusters of highly fragrant flowers in various colors.
- Grape Hyacinth (Muscari): Dainty grape-like clusters of blue flowers (‘Valerie Finnis’ is a favorite – the color of the summer sky!).
- Crowned Imperial & Checkered Lily (Fritillaria): Sometimes called “Skunk Lily” due to their strong odor (deer & rabbit won’t touch them), they are spectacular in bloom.
- Daffodils (Narcissus): A long-lived and dearly beloved classic. Daffodils contain poisonous alkaloids that make them undesirable to browsing animals such as deer & rabbits.
- Tulips: A favorite for spring bouquets. Tulips come in a tremendous range of sizes, colors and shapes. The showier hybrids tend to be shorter lived than most other bulbs but the smaller species tulips are long lived. Among the hybrids the ‘Darwin Hybrids’ are the most reliable for producing subsequent years of showy blooms.
Late Season Bulbs
Bulb season can extend well into June with these late bloomers
- Quamash (Camassia): A North American native that is hugely popular in British and European gardens but seldom seen in gardens in the U.S. Be a trendsetter and add this beauty to your garden!
- Allium: Among the most striking of flowering bulbs, Alliums produce purple globe shaped flower heads that can reach up to 12″ across! Being members of the onion family their foliage and flowers have a pungent scent and smell and are rarely eaten by deer or rabbits.
- Summer Snowflake (Leucojum): Another underutilized bulb that deserves a place in every garden! Exquisite hanging white bells, tipped with green, on 12″-15″ stems in late spring/early summer.
- Wood Hyacinths (Hyacinthoides): Loose, open spikes of fragrant blue bell-like flowers.
- Mediterranean Bells (Nectaroscordum): Another favorite! This unique, rarely seen, bulb is interesting – if not traditionally beautiful – in all stages. The oddly twisted foliage, the pointed papery buds and the hanging candelabra-like white/ maroon/ chartreuse flowers are all noteworthy.