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Why, When & How to Add Spring Flower Bulbs to Your Garden

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Checker Lily

Tiny Checker Lily (aka Frittillaria) blooms in early spring. Before you choose a Frit, double-check your size and color. They are very diverse!

How to Add Spring Flower Bulbs to Your Garden!

When you know how to add spring flower bulbs to your garden, you’ll get lots of enjoyment! That’s because spring bulbs provide color, texture, and often fragrance to help remind us winter’s on the way out. So whether your garden beds are newly planted or already lush and mature, make room for more spring flower bulbs!

When Should You Plant Spring Flower Bulbs?

Remember to buy your bulbs and plant them in fall. In fact, this may mean you order bulbs in summer. That way they’ll be shipped to you by fall. Otherwise, you may need to remember to buy your bulbs in autumn from a nearby nursery. And unfortunately, nursery bulb selections in fall may not be as great as catalog bulb choices in summer.

Can You Plant these Flowers in Spring?

Certainly, forced bulbs will be available at the nurseries come spring. But these will be significantly more expensive than bulk ones available in fall. Plus, they were forced, which may have stressed them quite a bit. As well, stressed bulbs may have difficulty rejuvenating in the future. So that means if you buy them this way, you’ll probably pay more. And the bulbs may not transplant successfully into your garden later.

How to Pick the Right Spring Bulbs for Your Garden…

Choosing the right bulbs for your garden can be mind-boggling. That’s because there are so many options! These range from tall tulips to tiny dwarf daffodils and iris that only get to be about 6″ tall. Plus you can shop for fragrant narcissus in an array of flower forms and colors. And there are so many more.

How to Design Spring Bulbs into Your Garden:

First, keep an eye on spots in your garden that need renovating or are bare.

So for instance, has a groundcover taken up so much space that your bed barely has color? Or is there a perennial that would perform better if moved into a new environment? And maybe one corner of your garden is lush with ferns but devoid of any color but green? If you find spots like this, these are prime places to plant your spring flower bulbs!

Second, consider the time of year that your bed needs some color or fragrance.

As you gaze out the window, is there a spot where you’ll thrill to the sight of an emerging flower poking through the last of winter’s snow? Or, perhaps you desperately need some fragrance out the front door in mid-spring.

Then, think about the color theme of your garden bed. And remember: color theme may change as the seasons pass.

Plus, when you plant bulbs with bloom succession in mind, you can enjoy a blooming bulb garden for months without end!

Once you have narrowed down the place, timing, color, size and fragrance, you can begin selecting your bulbs.

Consider selecting these bulbs to fit your garden needs:

  1. If you’re looking for tiny and early flowering bulbs: consider crocus, snowdrops, dwarf iris, tiny daffodils or even miniature tulips.
  2. Want flowers that naturalize, returning year after year? Try daffodils, crocus, grape hyacinth or even species tulips. Avoid hybridized tulips.
  3. Looking for fragrance? Many narcissus and even some iris emit delicious perfume.
  4. And, don’t forget to check the bloom timing. Some spring flowering bulbs can begin popping up in mid-winter. But others won’t flower until nearly summer. So adding a variety of spring flower bulbs that open at different times will help extend your blooms!
  5. If you’re trying to fill in an area in deeper shade, try popping in Trilliums, which work well as forest understory and will eventually naturalize in the right settings. But keep in mind thatmost spring bulbs will thrive in sunnier spots where they are more likely to stand up tall and flower well.
  6. Feel your bulbs before buying them if you can. And select firm ones that are well dried. Do not choose any that are mushy or totally shriveled up.

If you live in an area that doesn’t experience a cold winter…

If you don’t have much of a winter, you may need to refrigerate your bulbs for at least a couple of weeks before planting. That’s because his will give them the “cold period” they require in order to bloom. But if you’re unsure what’s required in your location, ask the catalog vendor or nursery person before you buy!

Once your bulbs are planted…

Be sure to make note of what you planted where. Otherwise, you may end up putting a spade through them later on. Moreover, an easy way to keep track of where you planted your spring flower bulbs is to take a photo of the bulb packages in the garden where you’ve planted your spring flower bulbs!

how to plant spring flower bulbs & keep track of them!


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3 comments on “Why, When & How to Add Spring Flower Bulbs to Your Garden

  1. Karin Peterson on

    Hi Robin,
    Wish I had some of your blackberries for a Cobbler – my favorite one! My small Massachusetts Bberry weed patch doesn’t produce enough and they are pricey here.
    Regarding bulbs, will I get blooms next spring from last year’s indoor Paper White bulbs planted outside? Lv, Aunt Karin

  2. Garden Mentors on

    Karin, you *must* come visit and pick blackberries with me next summer — and blueberries to make G’ma’s blueberry buckle too! As for the paper whites blooming outside, I’ve had good luck in the past for at least one year. Sometimes they poop out fast outside. It’s certainly worth trying! 🙂

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