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Outdoor Plants

Fall Bulbs: Plant now for Spring Colour

October 3, 2017 4 min read

Autumn is time for renewal and change; why not start in the garden?

Bulbs are available in every shade and colour combination. Mixing solids with various colours and planting near annuals and perennials creates a dramatic landscape as the snow melts away.

Warm soil and cooler nights make fall the perfect time for planting spring flowering bulbs. These conditions are ideal for them to take root and give them a head start so your garden will burst with vibrant colour next spring.

Spring flowering potted bulbs

While choosing your fall bulbs, pick ones that are plump and firm; avoid any that are mushy or have mould. When planting your bulbs, always check the back of the bag to ensure you are allowing for enough space and planting deep enough in the soil.

For a dramatic show of spring-flowering bulbs, plant smaller species such as crocus over bigger bulbs such as daffodils or tulips; you’ll get twice the colour.

How to plant fall bulbs

Fall bulbs need to be planted with the flat side in the soil, and the pointed tip is facing upwards. They should receive four to six hours of sunlight. It is fundamental to have them planted in an area with good drainage because if not they will rot. After they’ve been planted, don’t forget to water! This will encourage the roots to establish quickly and can eliminate air pockets.

Sprinkle Blood Meal, Critter Ridder, or mulch over the bulbs before covering with soil to deter squirrels from your bulbs. You can also try placing mesh or chicken wire over the ground to keep the critters from digging.

Even if you don’t have a garden bed to plant in, you can grow bulbs in containers by following similar steps as above.

What to plant?

Here are some of the most popular bulbs to plant this fall to have your garden bursting with blooms come spring.

Snowdrop (galanthus)

A sure sign spring has arrived; snowdrops emerge from landscapes when snow is still melting. These tiny plants grow to be around three to six inches and produce a white flower which drops down the stalk. They are an excellent addition to areas you have a naturalized setting in full sun to part shade. Plant ferns or hosta next to the snowdrops in late spring; the summer growth will conceal the bare spaces over the dormant snowdrops. Due to the nature of their size, you can plant them two to three inches apart to create a showy display.

Snowdrop flowers blooming in winter

Daffodil (narcissus)

There are a handful of different shades of yellow, peach, orange and white available. These beautiful trumpet-shaped flowers brighten up landscape year after year. Daffodils bloom best in full sun areas. Plant with tall ornamental grasses so the foliage can blend once blooming is finished.

Allium

Late spring to summer blooming, allium is a unique, versatile bulb. Their whimsical circular shape brings height and texture to any landscape. They are adaptable to all soils and prefer a location where they can bask in the sunlight all day; some varieties are even considered drought tolerant. You will not ever have to worry about rodents or deer since they have no appreciation for the taste of onions. Alliums bulbs are worth a spot in your garden.

Tulip

Did you know tulips come in three distinct groups depending on bloom time? They can bloom early, mid or late spring. These spring garden classics are available in many heights and a broad colour range. The shape of the tulip flower ranges from a large cup to a flat star, a fringed cup, or a feathered specimen called ‘Parrot’. Tulips adapt to many types of soils as long as they have good drainage. A good tip if the soil is too sandy or heavy clay, amend the soil by adding organic matter such as compost.

Grape hyacinth (muscari)

Clusters of fragrant purplish blue and white blooms will flower from early to late spring, depending on the variety. Grape hyacinth is a spectacular sight in spring when they are allowed to naturalize under trees, along pathways or beds. This fall bulb should be planted three to four inches apart in an area that receives full sun to a half day of sun. They work wonderfully with pansies or tucked under taller plants.

Hyacinth

A cherished bulb for any traditional or modern garden. Lovely scented bell-shaped flowers in white, blue, pink or purple. They should be planted eight inches deep into the soil and placed two to three inches apart in full sun. After hyacinth flowers start fading, cut the flower stalks but leave the foliage until the plant has completely died. Following these tips should keep them coming back year after year.

Cluster lilies (brodiaea)

Find a location in full sun with good drainage – areas that develop puddles after rain are not ideal. Plant six inches deep and remove any rocks and rock clumps. Grass-like foliage will appear first, followed by purple-blue blooms.

"Ithuriel's Spear" flowers (or Common Triteleia, Grassnut, Triplet Lily) in a garden.