As we transition into the season of autumn, many gardeners are beginning their annual fall clean up. Fall gardening can include more than just yard work and winter preparation. It’s also a great time to get a jump on spring by introducing some colorful early spring flowers. Planting an assortment of flowering bulbs is a great way to add interest into your perennial gardens while summer plants break dormancy.
Zone 3 Bulb Varieties for Fall
Tulips – come in a variety of colors, heights and bloom times. Blooms can range from single petal, double petal, and fringed, flamed or double peony and will bloom from April until the end of May in Zone 3.
Daffodils – as one of the earliest bloomers, these members of the narcissus family announce the arrival of spring. They range in color from white, yellow, peach and orange and will often display two varieties of color in either single or double elegant cupped blooms.
Iris – easy to grown, hardy reliable irises come in varying heights. They attract hummingbirds and butterflies and are often these pollinators first food option in spring.
Lilies – are a staple in many landscapes and gardens. Their strongly scented flowers bloom for weeks in the summer. There are hundreds of varieties of lilies available. With so many options on bloom time, you can have a nonstop show of color from spring until fall.
Crocuses – the tiny crocus is the first of all flowers to bloom. You may often see them poking up through thin layers of melting snow. Plant these by the dozens for a great show of color. Crocuses are available in shades of purple, blue, pink, yellow and white.
Allium – ornamental allium is a member of the onion, shallot and garlic family. Allium is rodent and deer-resistant and requires little care. They thrive in sunny locations.
Choosing the Right Bulbs to Plant
In order to get the most out of your bulbs, you need to start with high-quality specimens. When shopping for bulbs look for the following.
Firm, plump bulbs free of soft spots and odors.
Buy the largest bulbs possible, unless you are doing an informal planting so bulbs self-propagate and spread freely. In this case you can purchase smaller specimens.
Make sure any flowers you purchase are appropriate for your hardiness zone!
When to Plant Fall Bulbs
In Northern climates, it is best to plant in late September to mid-October, in order to get bulbs in the ground before the first frost of the season. Make sure you plant before the ground freezes solid in order for the roots to grow. The exception to this is tulips, as long as you can still get them in the ground in the fall or early winter, you can plant them.
How to Plant Your Bulbs
Step 1 – Sort your bulbs
by variety, color and height. Always plant the shorter bulbs in the fronts of flower beds with subsequent heights behind. Keep them separated until it’s time to plant to avoid for example daffodils being mixed up with irises.
Step 2 – Prepare the area where t
he bulbs will be planted by working the soil, being sure to break up clumps and add in peat moss or compost into the top 8 to 10 inches of soil. Bulbs need well drained soil and this will prevent them from becoming waterlogged.
Step 3 – Determine the planting depth of all of the varieties of bulbs you will be planting. The rule of thumb is to bury them 2 to 3 times as deep as the bulb is tall. Always plant your bulb with the pointy end up!
Step 4 – Dig the holes at the plant depth recommended on the instructions included with the bulbs you have purchased. Auger-style drills and tubular steel bulb planting tools are available at most garden stores. Place the bulb in the hole, remembering point side up.
Step 5 – Fill the hole with soil, but avoid tamping and packing the soil too much. Water in well initially and then avoid any excess watering to prevent bulbs from rotting through the winter.
Tips for Growing Flowers from Bulbs
Plant in groups or clumps for visual impact
Choose full sun locations within you flower beds
In established flower beds, bulbs can be planted around the bases of other perennials, trees or shrubs. The existing plants that come up in late spring will hide the decaying leaves of the bulbs.
In exposed flower beds consider adding two to three inches of mulch for extra protection from cold.
Leave the foliage in place until it turns brown. The bulb derives food from still green leaves which enables it to store food for the following year.
Summer blooming bulbs such as dahlia, canna & calla lily, ranunculus, elephant ear and gladiolus must be dug up every fall, cleaned, dried and stored in a cold(not freezing), dark place for winter to be planted the following spring.
We have a great selection of fall bulbs available through our webstore by copying the following link or you can come shop in store Monday to Saturdays, between 10am to 5pm.