Planting flower bulbs in October can result in an early spring garden. What kinds of flower bulbs do you plant in the fall? Think of spring bulbs like daffodils, crocuses, snowdrops, tulip bulbs, hyacinths, irises, and alliums. Read here to know when to plant fall bulbs for year-round color.
Fall Bulbs: What Are They?
Flowering fall bulbs really don’t flower until the next fall. They are planted in the fall for a spectacular spring display. This contrasts with the spring planting of summer-flowering bulbs like dahlias, elephant ears, caladiums, gladiolus, cannas, and tropicals.
There must be a good reason for planting spring-flowering bulbs in the depths of fall. Dormant perennials are what you see come back to life every spring. For them to come out of hibernation and start putting down roots before the big display in the spring, the soil has to be cold and damp in the fall.
They are easy to grow and provide food for early pollinators like the drowsy queen bumblebee.
Remember that not all the fall bulbs you see are really bulbs. Plants like irises and crocuses have different methods of propagation. However, tulips and daffodils are examples of true bulbs. Although they all go by a variety of names, “fall bulbs” describes these plants well.
The Best Time to Plant Fall Bulbs
Late in the fall, when the soil temperature has dropped below 60°F, or approximately six weeks before a heavy frost is expected, is the ideal time to plant fall bulbs.
When this occurs in the North, it is often in the months of September and October. (Halloween would be an appropriate target date.) Southern gardens often plant bulbs in the cooler months of October and November. (Tulips are a rare exception; if you can wait until the winter, you can plant them.)
Some bulbs may need pre-cooling in the South, especially in the hottest regions. Before planting, most fall bulbs need to spend 12 to 16 weeks in cold storage at 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit in well-ventilated packaging in the coldest part of your refrigerator. Ask your bulb provider whether the bulbs they sell have already been pre-cooled or if you will need to chill them before using them.
It’s important to remember that certain bulbs can only produce a single flowering cycle in regions with milder winters and summers. For instance, tulip bulbs need to be replanted annually. However, they are stunning to look at and well worth the effort! For eternal beauty year after year, plant fall bulbs like daffodils.
In general, better-quality bulbs are bigger than average (for their kind) and bloom more vibrantly. Lower-quality bulbs are less likely to flower successfully, will have smaller flowers, and may not return the next year.
Bulbs should be firm and fresh, not brittle or rotten. If you want your bulbs to be disease-resistant, choose ones that still have their husks on. Bulbs should be planted or stored in a cool, dark, dry area between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit as soon as they are received. The flower buds could be harmed if the temperature rises beyond 70°F.
Are there any deer, squirrels, or voles? Unfortunately, you can scratch the graceful crocus and stunning tulip off your list. You may also use a chicken wire “cage” to put your bulbs in.
Where to Find Bulbs for Fall Planting?
If you want your bulbs to flourish, don’t go to a big box store; instead, go to a small nursery or garden center. It’s also convenient to shop online since several excellent nurseries are available. Bulb specialists provide many more kinds and colors, so you may get something really unique. Cut some of the spring flowers and bring them indoors by planting extras for this purpose.
When Should You Order Bulbs?
The middle of September is usually when garden centers begin selling fall bulbs. Moreover, online nurseries allow you to pre-order rare bulbs months before planting season, guaranteeing that you will get the types you choose. The nurseries won’t send the bulbs until the fall when they can be planted; generally, the shipping delay is a week or two.
Planting Bulbs in the Fall: The Best Selection
Read on for a trusted and tried-and-true list of spring-flowering bulbs.
Tulips, one of the most well-known spring bulbs, are available in a wide range of colors and types. Soil that drains well or is sandy and high in nutrients is ideal. Mass plantings of tulips, which look stunning even without the added bonus of timing their bloom with the daffodils, are a common sight. When combined with grape hyacinth, they make an attractive display.
One word of warning, though: many modern tulips only last for one season. Squirrels and hybridization have led to treating these bulbs as annuals. Only around two-thirds of the bulbs will survive to bloom the next year, and even fewer will survive the following year. Planting new tulip bulbs yearly isn’t difficult, and neither is covering the bulbs with a nylon mesh. When searching for tulip bulbs for sale, it’s important to do so from a reputable vendor.
Many favor daffodils over other bulbs because squirrels, deer, and chipmunks leave them alone. Daffodils can be pink, orange, white, or multicolored, and their flowers can be trumpets, flat rings, or roselike cups. They like well-draining, organically-amended soil. Plant them 6 inches deep and apart. Daffodils look beautiful in groundcover beds, meadows, and beneath hostas.
Crocuses are always welcomed with enthusiasm as one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring. These varieties occur in purple, white, yellow, and striped flowers. Crocuses grow in either full sun or moderate shade and benefit from soils that drain well. They work well as lawn fillers and as garden borders. They’ll be done flowering well before you need to mow the lawn.
And there are several other flowering bulbs to plant in the fall, namely snowdrops, hyacinths, irises, and alliums (ornamental onions).