If you live somewhere with a long, cold winter, I have no doubt that you’re already looking forward to the first signs of color in your yard! This is the time of year when all your fall bulb planting starts to pay off, and you start to witness the first blooms of the year before you’ve even stepped foot in the garden.
Fall planting is crucial if you hope to enjoy a flower-filled garden during the first few weeks of spring. Spring-blooming bulbs should be planted in autumn after temperatures dip below 60 degrees, or after the first frost and until the soil freezes. For northern states, this takes place from September to October, whereas middle states typically plant for spring from October to November. Southern states can plant their fall bulbs from November through December.
If you took the time to plant your bulbs in the fall, here’s a preview of what you might notice around your own garden in early spring. If you missed your window to plant spring flowering bulbs this past autumn, check out what's new in our fall 2020 catalogue.
Here in Gloucester, the Cyclamen are out and looking beautiful right now. Cyclamen are critter-resistant, shade-tolerant, and drought-tolerant, with beautiful leaves that look great even once the flowers have gone. Since they do bloom so early, I sometimes get questions about what to do with them if they’ve come up too soon. I just say, “Push ‘em right back down!” I’m only half-joking, of course; those who fear a cold snap will take down their Cyclamen can apply a layer of mulch to keep them cozy. Cyclamen coum is a lovely cultivar with pretty pink blooms and silvery variegated foliage. Hardy to zones 6-9.
These aptly-named early spring bloomers show off dazzling white nodding flowers with outer petals shaped like teardrops. They naturalize beautifully in the landscape, and are as critter-proof as they come! These little bulbs are great for brightening up shadier areas of the garden. Galanthus elwesii is a very early blooming cultivar with big, beautiful blooms. Hardy to zones 3-8.
You simply can’t have a list of early-spring bloomers without Daffodils! We pride ourselves on our huge selection of Daffodils, there are so many gorgeous choices in our catalog. If I had to choose just one, I’d suggest Ceylon (zone 3-8), which is an early bloomer and one of the longest-lasting Daffodil cultivars. It features buttercup-yellow petals and a reddish-orange cup. Keep an eye out next week for a full feature on early blooming Daffodils for your garden.
Tulips have a reputation for being some of the most eye-catching early spring bloomers around, as well as some of the best cut flower bulbs, and the reputation is well-earned. Brownie (zone 3-8) features gorgeous double flowers with an unbelievably sweet fragrance—you’ll smell her before you see her! Single-flower lovers will take a shine to Flair (zone 3-8), with her streaks of buttercup yellow and lobster red. Juan (zone 3-9) is an outstanding cultivar with unique purple foliage that contrasts with its bright orange and yellow blooms. Turkestanica (zone 3-8) will change your notion of what a tulip looks like with lily-like blooms on multi flowering stems.
Chionodoxa are a perfect fit for those who love to surround themselves with traditional pastel colors in the springtime. Chionodoxa ‘Blue Giant’ is an attention-seeker with its large, vigorous flowers. The soft white center fades into rich periwinkle blue. This variety blooms so early, it is also known as “Glory of the Snow!” Hardy to zones 3-8.
Crocus are another very early bloomer, and it’s not uncommon to see their bright little heads poking out while the temperature is still pretty frosty. Crocuses are normally a big treat for squirrels, but Crocus tommasinianus ‘Ruby Giant’ has properties that protect the bulb from foraging critters. Contrary to the name, they aren’t what I would call “ruby-colored”, but their reddish-purple blooms are very showy and vigorous all the same. Hardy to zones 3-8.
Dwarf Iris are lots of fun to look at since they all feature such beautiful combinations of colors and patterns. My favorite is Katherine Hodgkin, an especially-showy, very early spring-blooming cultivar. Her flowers feature striped white and greenish-blue standards with paler falls that show off bright yellow, violet, and white spots. A breathtaking beauty that is hardy enough for zones 3-9!
Hyacinths are fabulous upright bloomers for early spring gardens or indoor forcing and make a big splash in fresh-cut bouquets. Aida is a fantastic jewel-toned variety that adds a lot of “purple power” to gardens or containers, and she handles cold and frosty weather like a champion. Hardy to zones 4-8.
Scilla doesn't get the attention they deserve, and we ought to give them more credit. These little bulbs are truly delightful in the early spring garden. I’m especially partial to Scilla mischtschenkoana. This little cutie has a mouthful of a name, but her flowers are as tough as they are pretty. The flower spikes are lined with large, pale blue to white flowers with a dark blue midrib. They naturalize like a dream and are hardy to zones 4-8.
These bulbs are fantastic choices for fall planting this year, but that doesn’t mean you need to wait until September to start working with beautiful bulbs! Browse our Spring Catalogue to explore our selection of spring-planted, summer-blooming bulbs—shipped to your door anywhere in the United States. Or, if you’re in the Gloucester, VA area, you can visit The Bulb Shoppe to see today’s selection of potted bulbs to take home and enjoy.
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