It's like magic: Plant an unassuming little bulb this fall and it will make a glorious appearance next spring, just when you think you can't take one more grey, chilly day. "Some pop up when there's still snow on the ground," says Boyce Tankersley, director of living plant documentation at the Chicago Botanic Garden. "They're something to anticipate, and there are so many different types to enjoy." Plus, most bulbs naturalise (or multiply) to return year after year. From Country Living UK It's like magic: Plant an unassuming little bulb this fall and it will make a glorious appearance next spring, just when you think you can't take one more grey, chilly day. "Some pop up when there's still snow on the ground," says Boyce Tankersley, director of living plant documentation at the Chicago Botanic Garden. "They're something to anticipate, and there are so many different types to enjoy." Plus, most bulbs naturalise (or multiply) to return year after year.
Make sure you pick a bulb for your garden's exposure (sun or shade), then dig a hole that's the proper depth, settling the bulb in place pointy-side up, since a bulb planted upside-down will not send up shoots.
"If you're unsure with some of the rounder, flatter bulbs, turn them on their side to plant, which still allows them to come up," advises Tankersley. Most importantly, leave the foliage in place until it withers; otherwise, the bulb can't make food for next year's bloom. Here are a few to try in your garden...
These blooms are distinctive signs of spring with their graceful trumpet-shaped flowers bobbing on bright green stems. They're reliable bloomers which come back year after year. "Bunnies, voles, and other rodents typically leave these bulbs alone," says Jay Hutchins, general manager of
Brent and Becky's Bulbs. Plant in masses for a spectacular effect. Prefers full sun. Try: A bright yellow two-toned classic which naturalises well •Carlton: One of the earliest, often poking out through a blanket of snow •Rijnveld's Early Sensation: Multiple flower stems per bulb and grass-like foliage •Sunlight Sensation:
"Tuck bulbs into the perennial garden for a pop of colour," says Bonnie Wooley, onsite sales consultant with
Bluestone Perennials. These tall and stately queens of the garden, which are actually ornamental onions that critters won't dig up, are perfect accents. Prefers full sun. Try: Silvery purple volleyball-sized flowers offer a dramatic statement •Globemaster: Golf-ball sized bright yellow flowers emerge in late spring •Jeannine: A tried-and-true deep purple addition to the landscape •Gladiator:
A myriad of colours make hyacinth a late spring charmer. Its powerful fragrance may be overwhelming to some people, although others say it's the scent of spring. It also tends to fade with lackluster blooms after a few seasons, so plan to replant in three or four years, says Tankersley. Prefers full sun to part shade.
Try: Dense creamy white spikes of flowers •Carnegie: Striking deep purple spikes that appear almost black •Dark Dimension: A classic periwinkle blue with intense fragrance •Delft Blue:
Teeny starry flowers come in shades of blues, whites, pinks and violets. (Your grandmother may have called this plant "squill.") They bloom very early and are one of the most shade tolerant bulbs. Try using them as edging or in rock gardens. Tolerates sun, part sun and shade.
Try: Blue form that naturalises well •Siberica: Pale pink frilly flowers that naturalises well •Rosea: : Light blue to white flowers with a dark blue line running through them •Mischtschenkoana
This charming little plant, also called starflower, is a lesser-known spring bulb. It boasts sweetly-scented flowers and grass-like foliage that's attractive in rock gardens, says Hutchins. Prefers full sun.
Try: Pretty white flowers compliment to other spring bulbs •White Star: Delicate dark blue six-petaled flowers •Jessie: Lavender-blue type that naturalises well •Rolf Fiedler:
These are a must-have addition to any early spring garden. Certain types (anything marked 'tommasinianus') are slightly more resistant to digging rodents, says Tankersley. Good in rock gardens or naturalised in the lawn. Prefers full sun, part shade.
Try: Creamy white color and rodent-resistant •Albus: Stunning blue flowers with a yellow center edged in white •Tricolor: Lemon-yellow and violet flowers are some of the earliest spring bloomers •Advance:
Delicate, drooping white and green flowers, which are also called galanthus, appear in very early spring. They're fairly resistant to digging rodents, and they tend to do best in dark, rich soils, says Hutchins. Prefers part shade to shade.
Try: White bell-shaped flowers with green tipped segments •Viridi-apice: A double form with white and green bowl-shaped blossoms •Hippolyta: The largest and earliest of the snowdrops •Giant:
These hardy little delicately grape-scented flowers, also called muscari, naturalise readily. Critters don't seem to bother them, says Tankersley. They work well at the front of beds or in rock gardens. Full sun to part shade.
Try: Pretty deep purple florets edged in white •Dark Eyes: Unique yellow florets with purple at the crown and have very sweet fragrance •Golden Fragrance: Unique pinkish-purple fringed flowers were a favorite in colonial gardens •Plumosum:
There are so many different sizes, shapes and colours of tulips that it's impossible to pick just one for your garden. Generally, the taller Darwina types tend to have big flowers, big bulbs, and a spectacular payoff. But they are planted mostly as annual colour, as they don't give a very good show in subsequent seasons, says Tankersley. They also tend to get eaten by hungry rodents. On the other hand, the more petite types (labeled 'whittallii' or 'sylvestris') are slightly more pest resistant and naturalise more readily. Prefers full sun to part shade, depending on the type.
Try: Tiny, starry, sunny yellow flowers that naturalise well •Sylvestris: Creamy colour with blood red flames and a yellow centre blooms mid-spring •Burning Heart: Distinctive, striking and rare white tulip with steel blue base •Alba Coerulea Oculata:
Dainty flowers on these petite plants appear in very early spring. The flowers have interesting patterns and frills, while the grass-like foliage is attractive even after flowers fade. Does well in rock gardens or borders. Prefers full sun to part shade.
Violet flowers with striking white blotches •Pauline: A very early bloomer with rich blue color and black frills on sturdy stems •Pixie: Royal blue with gold drops and white accents •Rhapsody:
These plants, also called snowflake, bloom profusely, lending a wispy, baby's breath-type effect to other nearby plantings. They tend to naturalise well and are pest-resistant, tolerating a wide range of soil types and exposures. Prefers full sun to part shade.
The earliest blooming type that even tolerates boggy soils •Spring Snowflake: Delicate white flowers with tiny green spots at the ends of petals •Summer Snowflake: A larger type that resembles a giant lily-of-the-valley •Gravetye Giant: