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 cousins (the “Tommy” and vernus crocus) also blooms early and have the added benefit of not being attractive to squirrels & chipmunks.
- Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica): Spikes of tiny sky blue hanging flowers in earliest spring (sometimes blooming through the snow). Self sows to form a carpet of blue that disappears into dormancy before anything else even begins to grow!
- 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 (Fritillaria): Tall stems bear hanging clusters of spectacular bell-shaped flowers, candelabra-style. Sometimes called “Skunk Lily” due to its strong odor (deer & rabbit won’t touch them). Requires well drained soil.
- Persian Lily (Fritillaria persica): An outstandingly unusual bulb with twisted silvery foliage and dusky plum purple/black hanging bells on 12”-18” stems in late spring. Really unique! Requires well drained soil.
- Daffodils (Narcissus): A long-lived and dearly beloved classic. We will have a selection including traditional yellows as well as pink trumpets, split corona (“Butterfly”), small cup and doubles. Many are highly fragrant. Daffodils are “critter proof” as they contain poisonous alkaloids that make them undesirable to browsing animals such as deer & rabbits.
- Tulips, species: The smaller species tulips are a great choice for gardeners who struggle with deer browsing, as deer are much less likely to eat these. The species tulips also bloom earlier, and many have interesting mottled foliage in addition to showy flowers. They tend to be much longer lived than the hybrid Tulips and will persist in the garden for many years. A favorite in our display gardens is Tulipa tarda, with its star shaped yellow & white up-facing flowers, which most visitors don’t even recognize as a Tulip!
- Tulips, hybrids: Essential for spring bouquets! Tulips come in a tremendous range of sizes, colors and shapes. Among the hybrids the ‘Darwin Hybrids’ are the most reliable for producing subsequent years of showy blooms. In addition to the Darwins we will have specialty selection such as Lily-Flowering and Parrot Tulips.
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 showy globe shaped flower heads in purple or white 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.
- 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.