Winter is coming… but not for a while. As you start planning what to do with your garden in the fall, make sure that you leave room for spring-blooming bulbs! These bulbs are like buried treasure, promising gorgeous color after a long winter.
Here’s what you need to know to have a successful spring blooming season with bulbs planted in the fall.
When to Plant
You should get your bulbs in the ground about 6-8 weeks before the first hard frost in your area. Gardeners in northern climates can get away with storing their bulbs in a cool, dry place such as a cellar. Southerners may need to actually chill their bulbs in the fridge for up to 10 weeks to trick the plants into thinking that they’ve endured a long winter.
Where to Plant
There are a few different strategies for making the most of your spring-blooming bulbs. You can either create a showcase for the flowers by planting them near an entryway, in borders along a sidewalk, or surrounding a mailbox, for example.
The alternative–and our favorite way to plant bulbs–is to plant them in drifts across a lawn or meadow. There’s something really magical about a spring carpet of daffodils, crocuses, and snowdrops.
No matter where you plant them, make sure that the plants have plenty of drainage. Too much water in the soil will rot the bulbs! Most of these flowers also prefer sun, so choose areas where they’ll get plenty of light. Finally, it’s better to plant lots of spring-blooming bulbs in a small space rather than scattering your bulb budget across your entire garden.
Best Bulbs for Beginners
If you’re new to gardening with bulbs, you can’t go wrong with daffodils. These cheerful, cup-and-saucer-shaped blooms are always a welcome sight in springtime. Daffodils (sometimes also called narcissus or jonquils, although the terms aren’t 100% interchangeable) come in a surprising variety of colors. Yellow is the most common, but you can also find white, orange, and even pink flowers, as well as flowers with multiple colors. For an extra-showy bloom, look for double daffodils.
Tulips are the other big hitter when it comes to spring bulbs. There are countless different colors and bloom styles available, but be aware that some are more challenging–and expensive–than others.
If you want something a little different in your garden, might we suggest Fritillaria? These exotic flowers are a fascinating spring-blooming bulb with bell-shaped blossoms. They vary in color from ivory to yellow to a purple that’s so dark it looks almost black. Some species even have checkered petals that you have to see to believe.