Plant These Spring-Blooming Bulbs This Fall
Patience is a virtue. For living proof, plant any of these 10 bulbs in fall, then wait a few months and enjoy them in spring—or even late winter!
If you're impatient for spring, plant crocus bulbs. They come up early—sometimes when there's still snow on the ground—and feature cup-shape flowers in a range of pastels as well as white and yellow. Height: 2 to 6 inches. For those less experienced gardeners, here's how to start a garden. Tip: Place a few small boulders near crocus to provide a stage for the small flowers and protect against foot traffic.
Blue starflower (Ipheion uniflorum) doesn't have the name recognition of, say, crocus or daffodil, but it should. And it's one of the easiest bulbs to grow, taking a range of soils. Its grasslike foliage is the perfect foil for star-shaped flowers. And the flowers can be blue, violet or almost white. In addition, it naturalizes easily in lawns and under trees. Height: 3 to 6 inches.
A famous poem speaks of having two loaves of bread but selling one and using the money to buy hyacinths. Translation: They feed the soul. Hyacinths (Hyacinthus spp.) are so lovely they almost look artificial. But their intense perfume reassures you they're indeed living plants. Colors include pink, white, yellow, apricot, purple and lavender. Height: 8 to 12 inches. Tip: Grow hyacinths in a windowbox. On warm spring days, you can open the windows and enjoy the fragrance indoors! Learn about more good container plants.
Another bulb for the impatient, snowdrop bulbs are more likely to bloom in winter when temperatures are mild. Snowdrops (Galanthus spp.) feature nodding white flowers—they look like miniature badminton birdies—on arching stems. Snowdrops spread easily, so they're good for naturalizing under a tree. In addition, they're fragrant and deer resistant, too. Height: 3 to 4 inches.
As the name suggests, winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) bulbs are apt to bloom in late winter, even before crocus. The bright yellow, buttercup-shape flowers are a real pick-me-up on gray days. They look great massed under a tree, and they're deer resistant. Height: 3 to 6 inches. Tip: These diminutive beauties are perfect for rock gardens.
With a name like crown imperial, you know these bulbs have some true showstopping power. The umbrella-shape flowers are tropical in color and appearance, hanging down from tall stems. Crown imperial (Fritillaria spp.) is captivating to us, but fortunately not to deer. Height: 36 to 40 inches. Tip: Their scent is somewhat off putting, so plant the flowers where you can enjoy them from a distance.
Even people who don't know flowers know tulip bulbs. With regal flowers perched above tall stems, tulips (Tulipa spp.) are truly the most elegant of spring-blooming bulbs. There's no shortage of bright colors either, including reds, pinks, yellows, oranges, whites and intriguing bicolors. Height: 8 to 30 inches. Tip: Enjoy a longer season of bloom by planting early-, mid- and late-season tulips. Learn how to protect bulbs from squirrels and chipmunks.
Grape hyacinth (Muscari spp.) looks like a miniature hyacinth, with purple, blue or white flowers. They are easy to grow and will spread and naturalize if given the space. Height: 6 to 8 inches. Tip: Plant pansies and violas as companions to fill in around the grape hyacinths and lend subtle contrast.
Alliums, also called ornamental onions, are a true showstopper. Large, round flowerheads in hues of purple, maroon and lilac are hard to miss—and make a nice focal point when grouped. The flowerheads work nicely in dried flower arrangements. Height: 32 to 36 inches. Follow your spring bloomers with summer flowers.
If you're only going to grow one spring-blooming bulb, make it a daffodil (Narcissus spp.). Simply put, animals such as deer and rabbits leave their bulbs be. That alone is a good reason to grow them. They're also durable and tough, and they feature yellow or white flowers with contrasting centers. Daffodils multiply and naturalize, so you can let them spread slowly. Height: 6 to 20 inches.