Though hard work and diligent care of delicate seeds can be rewarding, it is also nice to fill your garden with bulbs and simply forget about them. These fall-planted bulbs rest quietly under the earth until they surprise you in spring with beautiful blooms and boldfaced defiance of winter’s deathly chill.
Tips for planting fall bulbs:
Keep the label
When you get your bulbs, it can be tempting to rip off the label and discard it as you eagerly set out on planting day. This could lead to some serious confusion as many bulbs look the same and you won’t be able to differentiate between colors and varieties. Keep the label attached to the bag as you plant to avoid confusion.
It is often hard to visualize what your plants will look like the following spring without some careful planning. Take the time to map out where you want particular plants and keep in mind any other perennials that will be coming up in spring as well. Markdown where you planted bulbs to avoid accidentally digging them up in your spring planting fervor.
Most bulb-grown flowers look great in clumps of varying colors or as filler for empty areas in the garden. Try to plant low bulbs in front of high ones so that they won’t be overshadowed. This is especially important if they bloom at the same time.
Prepare your bed
While bulbs are much hardier than seeds and will usually spring up in even the worst soil, it’s a good idea to give them a bit of help by preparing the ground ahead of time. If you are planting in a new garden, mix in some compost or other organic material, and loosen the soil to allow the bulbs to establish roots. Rake up any debris, pull weeds, and remove large rocks before planting.
Dig a hole according to the label instructions and carefully place the bulb, root side down into the hole. Cover and carefully pat the soil down. Water thoroughly to stimulate growth and you’re good to go until spring. It really couldn’t get any easier!
Remember, your bulbs should be planted as soon as the weather begins to cool when evening temperatures are around 40 or 50 degrees Fahrenheit or 6-8 weeks before the first expected frost date. Planting them later also means that you won’t have to deal with scorching summer temperatures and you’ll get to enjoy the crisp fall air as you work. Bulbs will last for around a month or more before planting but make sure not to wait until next season. Read labels carefully as some bulbs require chilling before you can put them in the ground.
Best bulbs for fall planting
These purple beauties require very little care (keyword: no deadheading!) and give a shocking burst of color to your garden in late spring and through early summer. These bulbs do tend to run on the more expensive end, however, so keep your eyes open for deals or use a few in a special, noticeable section of the garden.
Looks can be deceiving. At first glance, fritillaria seems like they belong in the finicky plant category along with orchids and poppies. In reality, they are relatively straightforward to grow and are a neat deviation from more standard spring-blooming bulbs. Be sure to follow planting instruction carefully as they require precise planting depending on the variety.
Though iris flowers only last for a few weeks at the end of spring, you can load up on these carefree bulbs and create a spectacular display when blooming time comes around. Don’t be afraid to branch out from the typical purple iris, as there are many colors available to help spice up your garden.
Also known as wood hyacinth, Spanish and English bluebells are the most popular bulb varieties and look wonderful in carefree cottage gardens. Plant them in partial shade for optimal growth and be sure to give them lots of room to spread.
No list of fall-planted bulbs would be complete without daffodils. These plants embody the words “low-maintenance” and will return year after year with little to no effort on your part. If you are looking for an easy-to-grow plant to herald the beginning of spring and bring a burst of color after a drab winter, daffodils are for you.
What are your favorite spring-blooming bulbs to plant in the fall? Let us know in the comments below!