When autumn attracts our eyes upward towards the trees and their magnificent foliage, it’s easy to forget about what’s under the dirt. It’s never too early to start planning for next year’s garden, especially if you enjoy the prolific beauty of spring-flowering bulbs. Since they need to chill through the winter to kickstart their growth, fall is the time to get spring-flowering bulbs in the ground. Here are five beautiful flower bulbs to plant for spring color in your garden, and when to plant them:
When to Plant Spring-Blooming Bulbs
Although spring-blooming bulbs are cozy enough in their underground winter home to withstand the frozen soil, it’s still best to get them planted well ahead of the first hard frost of fall, usually about 6-8 weeks earlier. This time gives your bulbs the chance to settle into their surroundings and will lead to more successful blooms.
Our customers in Lothian can expect hard frosts near the end of November, so it’s best to plant your bulbs over the next few weeks. Our Alexandria friends have a few extra weeks to work with, but planting them in mid- to late-October is pretty safe.
If you’re aware of only one spring flower that emerges from a bulb, it’s probably the ever-beloved tulip. Tulips’ broad petals and distinct cup shape are hallmarks of spring’s arrival, and their wide range of vibrant hues are undoubtedly welcome after the dullness of winter. Plant your tulip bulbs in autumn, 6-8 weeks before the hard frost, in a spot with fertile, well-draining soil and full sun. Space them about 3-6 inches apart, and 4-6 inches deep.
Another spring classic, daffodils decorate your garden with their beautiful, bright yellow faces, like a little army of sunshine sent to fight off the last remnants of winter. Their cheerful, trumpet-shaped central coronas practically scream, “spring is here!”. Daffodil bulbs only need to be planted about 2-4 weeks before the ground freezes, so if you’ve left your fall bulb-planting until the last minute, you can always count on these guys! Just be sure to choose a well-draining area with full or partial sun. Plant them about 6 inches apart and 6 inches deep, and you’re golden.
Who could have thought that something so closely related to an onion could be so pretty? Alliums are well known for their characteristic pom-pom shaped flower clusters that sit neatly atop tall, slender stems. You’ll love the range purple hues this bulb brings to your garden—they’ve undoubtedly earned their “ornamental onion” title. During fall planting, make sure the hole is about three times the size of the diameter of the bulbs. Place them in full sun and water them regularly.
Flowers play a major role in making spring such a pleasant time of year—not just because of their stunning blooms in vibrant shades, but also because of their lovely fragrance. Hyacinths are popular choices for gardeners who love to fill their gardens with their delightful floral scent. Plus, their bright flower spikes aren’t hard on the eyes! Plant hyacinth bulbs in loamy soils, spacing them about 6 inches apart. Provide them with ample sunshine to encourage abundant blooms!
Crocuses may only grow to be 4-5 inches tall, but they push their way through lingering snow to put their petals on display anyways! They often bloom in purple, yellow, or white, but can also display shades of pinks, reds, and oranges. Crocus bulbs are actually called corms, which are solid stem bases that grow underground—they don’t have layers like bulbs do. Regardless, you can plant crocuses in the fall for an early spring arrival. They thrive in fertile, well-drained soil that is kept evenly moist. Space them about 4 inches apart, and plant them 3 inches deep.
Planting bulbs in the fall is like sending your future self a gift. You won’t see the result of your efforts right away (though that’s not rare in the gardening world!), but you’ll be delighted in the spring when your garden returns full of life and color. Here at Greenstreet Gardens, we carry a variety of spring bulbs for fall planting. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by our Lothian, Maryland location, or our Alexandria, Virginia locations (Alexandria and Belle Haven), and take a look at our selection.