Autumn is time for football, apple picking, and planting spring
flowering bulbs. Nothing gladdens the heart more than flowers in
March and April after a long winter. Most bulbs are easy to grow
in moderately to well drained soils. Numerous cultivars of tulips,
daffodils, and crocus exist, but there are many other lovely spring
blooming bulbs. The following suggestions are listed in approximate
bloom time from earliest to latest.
Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) are the earliest flowers
to appear, often through the snow in early March. The small nodding
white flowers have green notches on the inner petals. The 4-6 inch
tall plants should be planted in clumps (3 inches deep, 3 inches
apart) at the edge of beds. Snowdrops readily increase in number
so are ideal for naturalizing in large drifts. Unlike other spring
flowering bulbs that are divided after the foliage dies, snowdrops
should be divided and replanted immediately after bloom.
Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) blooms shortly after
snowdrops. One-inch wide bright yellow flowers are borne on 4 –
6 inch tall plants. They grow best in full to partial sun. Related
to buttercups, Winter Aconite develops from a pea-sized tuber instead
of a bulb. The tubers should be soaked overnight in water prior
to planting, then placed 3 inches deep and 4-6 inches apart. This
plant will expand into nice sized clumps. Winter Aconite does not
like to be disturbed. If division is necessary, the tubers should
be dug shortly after blooming and separated into clumps instead
of individual tubers. It may take more than a year for the plants
to reestablish. Winter Aconite works well combined with crocus or
in masses at the front of borders.
Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa) sends up clusters of starlike
flowers. Most varieties have light to dark blue flowers with white
centers but pink and all white cultivars are available. Each stem
only produces two strap like dark green leaves so the flowers are
very showy. The plant is 4 – 6 inches tall. Larger bulbs will
produce more than one flower spike. Glory of the Snow multiplies
slowly by self seeding. Commonly planted in borders, these plants
may also be used in containers.
Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica) features deep blue,
1/2 inch, bell like flowers in loose clusters of 3 to 5 flowers.
These upright 6 inch tall plants prefer fertile well drained soil
in full to partical sun. Siberian Squill spreads slowly and does
not like to be divided. The foliage dies down quickly after bloom
so Siberian Squill is a good choice for naturalizing.
Striped Squill or Lebanon Squill (Puschkinia scilloides)
has pale blue flowers with a darker blue stripe. The star shaped
flowers are borne in clusters on 6 inch tall plants. Striped Squill
multiples rapidly but should only be divided when flowering decreases.
This plant is a little more difficult to find but the lovely light
blue flowers make the search worthwhile.
Dwarf or Reticulated Iris (Iris reticulata) produces
small iris type flowers in purple or blue with yellow throats. These
irises grow from bulbs instead of rhisomes like German Iris. The
Reticulated Iris grows only five inches tall. Like most bulbs these
plants prefer moist well drained soil.
Checkered Lily or Guinea-Hen Flower (Fritillara meleagris)
blooms the same time as early tulips. Checkered Lily’s drooping
flowers are either spotted purple, bronze, and white, or solid white.
The 1 1/2 inch long flower is carried singly on the stem similar
to tulips. This 9 – 15 inch tall plant prefers partial shade
and soil high in organic matter.
Adding flowering bulbs to the yard can brighten early spring.
By looking beyond the typical bulbs, the landscape will bloom with
greater variety and a subtle beauty.
August - September 2002:
Purple Plants Can Be Pesky
Rust Diseases on Home Lawns | Spring Bulbs
Late Summer ‘Do’s and ’Don’t’s
| Fall Lawn Care