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Plant Fall Bulbs for Spring Flowers

Cooler fall days bring pumpkins and mums, and, for most people, it also means tidying up your garden and cutting back all the beautiful flowers. For a small yet ever-growing group of gardeners, it is the time to think about spring flowers! As September turns into October, the perfect bulb planting days are upon us. Fall bulbs bring an early-season cheer that helps pull us out of our late winter funk, reminding us that there is an end to the dreary cold days! Fall bulbs are perennial bulbs planted in the fall to bloom the following spring. They are easy to plant and grow, many are deer and rabbit resistant, and they are one of the first bloomers come spring.

When to Plant Fall Bulbs
Fall bulbs can be planted from late September through early November but are best planted from mid to late October. If planted too early, bulbs can produce growth that can impact the following year’s leaves, causing smaller blooms. If planted too late, bulbs may not have enough time to fully root in before a hard frost. Ideally, they would be planted 6-8 weeks before the first hard frost.

If purchased early on, bulbs should be stored in a cool, dry, dark location, like potatoes. They can be stored in a fridge, but a garage, shed, basement, or even spare bedroom closet can also suffice. Bulbs should be stored in a paper bag, avoiding plastic so they do not sweat as excess moisture can cause rotting. If storing in a fridge, make sure they are separated from fruit, as they emit the same gas that ripens fruit.

How to Plant Fall Bulbs
Typically, fall bulbs are planted at a depth that is three times their height. As an example, a 2” Tulip bulb would be planted approximately 6” deep. Bulbs have a distinct triangular shape and should be planted pointy side up (their flat bottom normally has a small toupee of roots). Bone Meal should be added to the soil at the time of planting and can be added directly into the dug hole; soil should be roughed up to avoid burning the bulbs. Come spring, feed with a balanced fertilizer (like our free liquid fertilizer) when they start to produce green growth. After blooming, let the leaves remain until they have turned brown, at which point they can be cut back. Until that point, the leaves are still absorbing light and nutrients to feed the bulb below ground.

Fall Bulb Varieties

Most homeowners are familiar with the standard varieties: Tulips, Daffodils, and Crocus. However, there are so many more than that!

Tulips: Tulips are available in a variety of bloom times (early; late) and types (single; double; Emperor; Botanical; Triumph; Darwin; Lily; Fringed; Parrot). These are one of the most familiar fall bulbs and have the widest range of color and pattern.
Height: 6”-32”
Sun: Full Sun
Bloom Time: Early Spring/Mid Spring/Late Spring
Ease of Growth & Reliability: Easy; Darwin & Triumph are reliable perennials
Deer/Rabbit Resistant: No/No

Daffodils: Bringing a cheery yellow face in spring, Daffodils are highly recognizable. Also known by their Latin name of Narcissus, Daffodils are available in shades of yellow and white, featuring inner cups in yellow, orange, pink, and white.
Height: 2”-36”
Sun: Full Sun
Bloom Time: Early Spring/Mid Spring
Ease of Growth & Reliability: Easy; Very Hardy
Deer/Rabbit Resistant: Yes/Yes

Crocus: Crocus are very early bloomers, and with shades of purple, yellow, orange, and white, bring a good reminder that winter has an end! Another easily recognizable bulb, Crocus are petite and offer a good contrast to taller bulbs.
Height: 3”-6”
Sun: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Bloom Time: Early Spring
Ease of Growth & Reliability: Easy; Very Hardy
Deer/Rabbit Resistant: Somewhat/No

Alliums: Alliums have steadily been increasing in popularity, with one attribute being their resistance to deer and rodents. Alliums are also known as ornamental onions, as they are part of the onion family; their scent and taste are enough for pesky critters to leave them alone, but it does not affect their beauty! With a wide size range in height, bloom size, and color (purple is not the only option) Alliums are sure to please!
Height: 12”-48”
Sun: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Early Summer
Ease of Growth & Reliability: Easy; Very Hardy
Deer/Rabbit Resistant: Yes/Yes

Scilla: Scilla are small, blue, woodland style bulbs that are a great pollinator for early insects. They are best planted en masse and create beautiful drifts that look like water. One of the truest blues available in plants!
Height: 2”-24”
Sun: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Bloom Time: Early Spring
Ease of Growth & Reliability: Easy; Very Hardy
Deer/Rabbit Resistant: Yes/YesCrocus: Crocus are very early bloomers, and with shades of purple, yellow, orange, and white, bring a good reminder that winter has an end! Another easily recognizable bulb, Crocus are petite and offer a good contrast to taller bulbs.
Height: 3”-6”
Sun: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Bloom Time: Early Spring
Ease of Growth & Reliability: Easy; Very Hardy
Deer/Rabbit Resistant: Somewhat/No

Hyacinths: Hyacinths are another well-known bulb with their dense blooms and bright colors. With a compact habit and sweet scent, Hyacinths make a great border bulb. *Hyacinth bulbs contain calcium oxalate and may cause an intense itch and dermatitis when encountering bare skin. They are best handled with gloves although they cause no long-term effects.
Height: 6”-12”
Sun: Full Sun to Partial Sun
Bloom Time: Early Spring/Mid Spring
Ease of Growth & Reliability: Easy; Very Hardy
Deer/Rabbit Resistant: Yes/Yes

Muscari:
Muscari, also called Grape Hyacinth, are mid spring bloomers in shades of blue, purple, and white. With dense flowers that look like a bunch of grapes, Muscari fit well under taller bulbs like Tulips and Daffodils.
Height: 6”-12”
Sun: Full Sun
Bloom Time: Mid Spring
Ease of Growth & Reliability: Easy; Very Hardy
Deer/Rabbit Resistant: Yes/Yes

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