We’ve covered the best way to get your bulbs planted in autumn for a spring crop. Now we consider what to actually plant. Fortunately, there’s a technicolor display of gorgeous flowers to choose from. Plenty of fall bulbs like daffodils and tulips, of course, but also some other ideas you may not have considered–but always consider the zone where you’re planting.
Crocuses and irises
For example, look up the impressive Crocus sieberi. This is one of our regular bulbs for autumn planting, thanks to its tendency to actually flower during winter. Even during snow, it seems. This hardy perennial can thrive in Zones 4 through 8, and grows 4″ to 8″.
We’re also fond of the Dutch iris. This colorful bloom can grow up to 2′ tall, and comes in a variety of names–each marking the deep distinctive color of the flower. This surprisingly hearty flower can bloom just about anywhere outside of the harshest climes of the American West. It also adjusts easily to warmer climates.
The Chilean blue crocus
The Chilean blue crocus isn’t kidding about being blue. It’s intensely blue. What it isn’t, however, is an actual Crocus. Don’t expect to see those vivid blue colors in winter, either. It won’t bloom until early spring–which is best. This flower’s truly sensitive and should be cultivated in Zones 7-9.
Beauty of Apeldoorn tulips
If you want some imposing tulips, go with the Darwin hybrid. It has 2′ stems. This flower also blooms into really intense colors. We’re particularly fond of the orange “Beauty of Apeldoorn”–but there also splendid specimens in white, pink, and yellow. Those warm colors like a good winter chill, too. Try to give them six weeks at temperatures under 45 degrees.
The Parrot tulip
You know what tulip is a lot like a parrot? The Parrot Tulip–which has really distinctive colors, and even sometimes has stripings. The petals are pretty spectacular, too. These can develop stems up to 20″–and enjoy the cold enough that you should really chill the bulbs for six weeks before planting. That’s a real exception to the usual rule of planting your autumn bulbs shortly after purchase.
Apricot daffodils are colorful enough with their petals, but can also sometimes offer up a gorgeous corona. That’s what you call the cup of the flower. Some grow to have stems up to 18″. That’s a pretty impressive stalk–but we’re still stalking some other favorite fall bulbs.
Tulips and daffodils
Now here’s our second round of favorites–as we dwell on tulips and daffodils, but also consider some peonies and poppies. Peonies are always a good investment since they can flower for up to 75 years. They also often bloom early. Poppies won’t bloom until late spring–and we’re a little more careful about those in winter since these perennials really need some dry land during winter. That reminds us to always consider the zone where we’re planting.
The Eden’s Perfume Peony
We’re very fond of the Eden’s Perfume Peony. It adds some gorgeous pink to the garden selection and has an incredible scent closer to a rose. The petals are fine and frilly, while the stalks can grow up to 6 or 7 inches across. We’re also hedging our bets with the Plena Rosea Peony. This reliable fall bulb doesn’t require a lot of care, and often pays off with large (and early) blooms along stalks that can go up to 24 inches tall (but best for Zones 4 through 8).
Black Eye Lily
We’re planning on planting two species of lilies this year. We’ll be looking forward to seeing the dark purple majesty of the Black Eye Lily, which contrasts its rich tones with splashes of white on the blooms. It will be a challange to wait and see if these lilies actually make it to their potential height of 32 to 36 inches. We’re also ready to try again with the Pretty Woman Orienpet Lily. We had a good 4-inch stem last year, and are trying to double that in 2014. It should also be sturdy enough that we won’t even have to stake the plant.
Baby Boomer Daffodil
We’re going with some yellow additions to the Baby Boomer Daffodil. This jonquila species blooms plenty of flowers to each stem and should do an impressive job of bordering our colorful garden mix–especially with a potential height of 12 inches. We’re still recommending this one for Zones 3 through 8.
There’s enough volume with our fall bulbs that we can even work in some Oriental Poppies–which tend to be dormant after a healthy bloom. You need some lush gardening to fill in the awkward gaps that poppies can offer. They won’t bloom until late spring, either, and are gone by late summer. We’re still planting some White Oriental Poppies and looking forward to a pretty long display of stalks up to 30 inches tall. We’ll get the same life out of the Turkenlouise Oriental Poppy, although we have to be careful about being sure these get lots of sun. The payoff is a stunning orange display.
And, finally, we’re looking at some Hyacinths. We like the purple and silver gilding of the Blue Jacket Hyacinth. There’s some lovely coloring to the City of Haarlem Hyacinth, as well–plus the appeal of a plant that doesn’t appeal to mice or deer. And we’re pairing the olfactory charms of that one with the Minos Hyacinth, which provides a variety of blues. That will all give us a lot to cheer on while enduring our own winter blues.