Fall Planting for Spring Beauty

By Mary Luchtel, Sargent’s Gardens

It’s delightful to pass by a landscape boasting of cheerful color as spring arrives and we are saying goodbye to winter. At that time we are feeling the anticipation of the gardens coming “alive” again. Upon witnessing the spirit of the season, we may have made a mental note to add spring flowering bulbs for early color in our own landscape.

Fall is the time to select a combination of bulbs that are sure to bring a smile come spring. Whether it is tulips, crocus, hyacinth or daffodils you are considering, the color choices within each category are numerous. Some bulbs are divided between early, mid and late blooming to extend the spring color while waiting for your other perennials to perform. Others offer various heights, sweet fragrances, and even single or double blooms.

Popular bulbs for low maintenance and deer resistance include daffodils and scillas. Some gardeners will even claim that intermixing these bulbs among their other spring flowering bulbs helps deter deer from those more susceptible to deer damage like the tulip. Both daffodils and scilla are excellent for naturalizing and have a “wildflower like” charm. Even though scilla only reaches a height of 4-5” the Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty’ is stunning as it spreads each year to form a mass of bright sky-blue blooms. In addition to the more common yellow daffodil, the newer varieties are exquisite. The contrasting colors between the perianths and the cups are at times sweet pastels while others scream “happy.” Daffodil choices include larger blooming, double bloomers, multi-flowering, and fragrant varieties.

Tulip blooms are borne in a rainbow of colors. The bloom time of this spring flowering bulb can cover several weeks by selecting bulbs with successive bloom times. Bi-colored varieties are like bringing “art” to your garden. The fragrant peony flowering tulips are long lasting and bridge the gap of time until our real peonies bloom.

The hyacinth, sporting huge flower spikes, are best placed where the intoxicating fragrance will be appreciated. Hyacinth are normally deer-resistant. Muscari, commonly referred as Grape Hyacinth, are much smaller in size and naturalize well.

Popping up as early as March at times, the Crocus and Galanthus bulbs (Snowdrops) bring us some of our earliest blooms. Although they don’t bloom until summer, bulbs such as Allium, Fritillaria, and Camassia are also planted in the fall.

Whether you plant bulbs for spring garden color or force them to bloom for bright indoor color during the long winter months, bulbs bring a particular joy. Witnessing bulbs emerge is like watching a butterfly emerge from its cocoon – simply breathtaking.

Written by

"Jill" of all trades at Sargent's, Nina Sargent co-owns Sargent's with her husband and in-laws. She keeps communication going between the garden centers, landscape, nursery and the public. Nina loves helping connect people with their outdoor living spaces - especially while creating habitat for wildlife. She enjoys running, skiing (of all kinds) and reading.