Gardening is often an exercise in delayed gratification, and never more than when you plant bulbs! You won’t get instant color like you do with annuals, but you will get flowers next spring—exactly when you need color after a long winter! Best of all, most bulbs return year after year. A few tips: First, make sure a plant is suited for your USDA Hardiness Zone (check yours here). Then plant bulbs with the pointy ends facing up in mid to late fall before the ground freezes. If you’re not sure which end of the bulb is up, which can happen with bulbs that are more squashed in appearance, plant them on their side in the hole. Mother Nature will do the rest! Also, read the label to learn how deep they need to go, and place several in each hole. Flowering bulbs look better in a grouping rather than a single flower here and there. When the blooms fade, wait until the leaves turn yellow to remove the foliage because the plant needs the leaves to make food for next year’s blooms.
These are the some of the most beautiful spring-flowering bulbs to plant in the fall:
Daffodils, also called narcissus, are some of the most dependable and easiest-to-grow bulbs with varieties that bloom from early to late spring. Squirrels and other rodents leave them alone due to poisonous crystals in the leaves and bulbs. They come in bright yellows, pure white, pale pinks, and varieties with double or ruffled petals.
Varieties to try: Tête-à-tête, Apricot Whirl
These tiny plants, also called leucojum, bloom profusely in early spring. They multiply on their own, and rodents tend to leave them alone. Put them at the front of the border or in a rock garden.
Varieties to try: Spring Snowflake, Summer Snowflake
The sweet scent of hyacinth, which comes in shades of white, blue, purple, and pink, is distinctive in early spring. Rodents and deer don’t like them! The sturdy blooms last for many weeks and come back reliably year after year.
Varieties to try: Peter Stuyvesant, Jan Bos
Crocuses are some of the earliest bulbs to bloom, often appearing when there’s still snow on the ground. Plant them en masse for a beautiful swath of color. But don’t be surprised if you find them popping up in other places in your yard. Squirrels and chipmunks like to dig them up and rebury them elsewhere!
Varieties to try: Blue Pearl, Tricolor
Beautiful globes of purple, deep pink or reddish-purple dance on top of long, graceful stems in late-spring. They’re also known as ornamental onions, which means rodents and deer don’t like the taste. Plant in clumps or borders layered behind shorter flowers.
Varieties to try: Gladiator, Drumsticks
This teeny flower, also called ipheion, is a less well-known spring bulb. But it’s been popular in gardens since colonial times. It has sweetly-scented star-shaped flowers in shades of white or blue. It looks just perfect in rock gardens.
Varieties to try: White Star, Jessie
Unlike most other fall-planted bulbs, most types of tulips usually don’t come back the following season. So, they’re generally treated as annuals with new bulbs planted every year. They’re also irresistible to squirrels and chipmunks! Plant within a cage of chicken wire, or layer them in a pot with other less tasty bulbs, such as daffodils, on top. Despite the extra work, their beauty makes them absolutely worth planting to enjoy for the season.
Varieties to try: La Belle Epoque, Continental
Consider these tiny bulbs the baby brothers of regular-sized hyacinths! They have a slight grape-y scent and clusters of blue, purple, white, and ombre-patterned flowers in early to mid-spring. Grape hyacinths, also called muscari, multiply quickly season after season. Rodents leave them alone!
Varieties to try: Latifolium, White Magic
The delicate blossoms of dwarf iris appear in very early spring. The petals have interesting frills, while the grass-like foliage is pretty even after the flowers fade. Plant it in rock gardens or the front of borders.
Varieties to try: Pauline, Pixie
Darling porcelain blue or blue-white star-shaped flowers appear in early spring. Scilla, also called squill, are beautiful planted in groups under trees, in rock gardens, or as a groundcover where you can’t get grass to grow.
Varieties to try: Siberian, Striped