“What in the world are all those purple flowers growing in that field?” When we drive along country fields that have not yet been sown in a crop, we often see patches of purple or purple-red flowers growing in them. (Deciding the correct color for wildflowers is an issue I intend to address in another post. For now, please indulge me in this.)
This field has, without a doubt, the darkest, purplest color growing in a large area I’ve ever seen! Assuming it to be a gigantic field of Violets, I pull the car to the side of the road and get out. In Texas, I saw fields this color, filled with Texas Bluebonnets.
Ohmigosh! They are Grape Hyacinths! I’ve never seen that many growing together in the wild! Tavia says they were introduced from Europe and thrive in abandoned lawns and waste places, after escaping from cultivation. Can’t you just hear them singing, “Free at last! Thank God, I’m free at last!”
This is the Purple Patch I find in suburban lawns where the residents refuse to pay a lawn service to kill their wildflowers. April 15 Tax Day is one of the best days to see these splendid gatherings of Common Violets.
When I was a Girl Scout we sang a song about Sweet Violets, sweeter than all the roses. Covered all over from head to toe, covered all over in sweet violets. Does anyone else remember that song? Tavia likes to eat them in salads and says they have loads of vitamin C.
Look at the first picture again. Abandoned or unplanted fields will also be covered in this reddish-purple flower growing close to the ground, and I’ve always been confused about what that might be. The most likely candidate is Purple Dead Nettle aka Red Dead Nettle, which is neither red, nor dead, nor a nettle at all! As you have guessed by now, it is an invasive from Eurasia, thriving in open areas, fields, lawns and waste places, and very difficult to remove once established. This genus has nettle-like leaves, but they lack the sting. The overlapping leaf and flower pattern somewhat resembles a Japanese pagoda. If you peer closely at the small flowers, they are quite lovely and delicate.
A flower similar to the Dead Nettle (well, it is to me at least, and very confusing) is the Henbit, another low to the ground plant with small, delicate purple blooms, found in the same open areas as the Dead Nettle. But look at the leaves on this plant. Notice the bare stem between the leaves, and the way they all cling to the stem. The small blossom points up as well.
The third weedy plant that I find to be confusing is Ground Ivy, or, as my mother-in-law said, Charlie Weed. This is the one that will cover your lawn and flower beds in long mats. You pull one end, and can find four feet of plant with a distinctive odor in your hand. Tavia notes that this species has been used to make ale, reportedly helping those who drank it to extend their lives, cure headaches, pains, inflammations, coughs, and many other ailments. The only thing we know for sure about Charlie Weed is that bees make good honey from its nectar.
Ah, at last, a purple flower that is not a weed! This is the Dwarf Larkspur, or Delphinium. The flowers may be blue, white or bicolored – mixtures of both. Tavia says they are found in damp to dry woods and barrens, preferring calcareous soil. In other words, they like to grow on limestone, which is precisely where we found them along the cliffs of the Ohio River. They are called Dwarf to be distinguished from the Tall Larkspur, but I think the Dwarfs actually resemble little purple men with big hats and white beards! Next time you see a hillside of Larkspur, kneel down for a close look, squint your eyes just so, and see if you agree! My final entry is the Virginia Bluebell, which isn’t purple, but close enough. The buds look dark pink and turn blue as they open. This plant is also called Virginia Cowslip, and was named when the English still referred to Massachusetts as North Virginia. They form spectacular colonies of blue flowers where ever they are found. So many of the early wildflowers are white or yellow that I especially enjoy those of a blue or purple hue, and hope you do too!
Naturally Yours, ~denapple
- How to plant and grow bulbs, corms and tubers
- What soil do bulbs prefer?
- Which way up should bulbs be planted?
- Growing bulbs in containers
- How to plant bulbs in grass
- Planting depths for bulbs and tubers
- Grape Hyacinth Planting Guide
- Choosing a Growing Site
- Soil Prep
- When to Plant Grape Hyacinths
- How to Plant Muscari Bulbs
- During the Growing Season
- At Season’s End
- Forcing Bulbs & Pre-Chilled Bulbs
- Insider Tips
- Planting and Growing Grape Hyacinths
- Potential Pests and Problems
- Varieties to Try
- Easy. Sweet. Pays big dividends.
- Growing Muscari: Planting Tips
- Growing Muscari: Colorful Combinations
- Growing Muscari: Plant Grape Hyacinth Bulbs Densely
- Growing Muscari: Caring For Grape Hyacinth Bulbs
- Further Reading
- Small Blue Bulbs
- Types of Spring-Blooming Bulbs
How to plant and grow bulbs, corms and tubers
Bulbs can be planted in containers or borders, and look particularly effective when naturalised in grass.
There are bulbs, corms and tubers to suit all sites and soils. So if you are wondering how deep to plant daffodil bulbs, how to plant up begonia tubers or when to plant tulips, take a look at our planting depth charts below and discover how easy growing bulbs can be!
What soil do bulbs prefer?
Different species will require different growing conditions and you can check their preferred position in our bulb planting depth chart below. As a rule, most will need a well drained soil that wont sit waterlogged in winter which may cause them to rot.
Which way up should bulbs be planted?
Always plant bulbs with the pointed growing tip facing upwards. If it isnt clear which is the top then try planting bulbs on their side. Some tuberous plants such as Begonias will be flatter than bulbs and dont have an obvious growing point. Position them just below the compost surface with the indented side facing upwards.
Growing bulbs in containers
Planting bulbs in containers allows you to move your display into prime position while they are in full bloom. After flowering the containers can be moved out of view while the bulbs die back and become dormant. Use a good quality general purpose compost and mix in a handful of fine grit to improve drainage. Alternatively you can choose specially prepared bulb compost.
Water bulbs in containers regularly as they begin to grow, and continue throughout their flowering period. Once the foliage begins to die back you can gradually reduce watering as they enter their dormant period.
If squirrels and mice become a problem then protect your containers of bulbs by covering the top of the pot with a piece of chicken wire. Once the shoots appear you can remove it to allow the foliage and flowers space to grow.
How to plant bulbs in grass
Naturalising bulbs in grass can make an impressive display. They are best grown in informal areas of grass that can be left unmown while the bulb foliage dies back.
For a really natural look, gently scatter them across the planting area and plant each one where it lands. Use a sturdy trowel or bulb planter to dig a hole to the recommended bulb planting depth and drop the bulb into the hole, making sure that it is facing the right way up. Cover the bulb with soil and gently firm the earth around the bulbs to fill any pockets of air. Avoid treading the ground afterwards as this may damage the bulb growing tips as the soil settles.
If you are planting large numbers of bulbs then it may be simpler to lift an entire piece of turf with a spade and arranging the bulbs beneath it before relaying the turf.
Planting depths for bulbs and tubers
Bulb planting depths vary depending on their size and species; but as a rule of thumb, most bulbs can be planted at a depth of approximately 3 times their own height. Some tubers, such as Begonias, are best started off indoors or in a frost free greenhouse before transplanting outdoors. Full growing instructions can be found on individual product pages.
Grape Hyacinth Planting Guide
Looking for an easy to please source of brilliant blue for your spring garden? Grape hyacinths, or muscari, are ideal candidates, with short stems festooned in clusters of sky blue, cobalt blue, purple or white. Never fussy, delightfully inexpensive and willing to self-seed and expand the bright dots of blue. Oh, and unappealing to squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits and deer. Yes, you should include at least a few of these in your garden.
Choosing a Growing Site
Grape hyacinths are content in a wide range of light conditions, from full sun to partial shade.
Muscari plants thrive in average soil and don’t require any special conditions. Look for a site that drains well; as with most bulbs, good drainage helps avoid bulb rot. If your soil is heavy (clay or compacted) consider digging in generous amounts of soil amendments such as a mix of course sand and compost, leaf mold or well-rotten manure to help with drainage. Note: we do not recommend using bone meal as it encourages pets and pests to dig up the bulbs you just planted.
When to Plant Grape Hyacinths
Plant in the fall, when soil in your area has started to cool. These bulbs can be planted right up until the soil freezes in cold regions, although earlier planting provides more time for bulb roots to grow. Note that the roots on winter hardy bulbs continue to grow, albeit more slowly, when soils are quite chilly but not yet frozen. These bulbs should not be held over for planting in the spring. It’s important for bulbs to have time to root in if they are to be able to absorb the required moisture and nutrients needed to thrive.
How to Plant Muscari Bulbs
Dig holes 4” deep and blend a handful or two of compost into the soil you removed. Add a bit of the amended soil back into the holes and plant your grape hyacinth bulbs about 3” below the soil line. Place the bulb in the hole with the pointed end facing up, fill the hole with soil, pat to eliminate air pockets and water well to settle the soil around the bulb. While there won’t be any visible growth the first fall, the bulb’s roots will be growing and creating a network for absorbing nutrients and moisture.
Plant about 10 grape hyacinth bulbs per square foot.
During the Growing Season
Muscari need about 1” of water a week from rain, irrigation or a combination of the two.
At Season’s End
After flowering, your grape hyacinth leaves will photosynthesize and create food for next year’s show. Then the bulbs will slip into dormancy and sleep through the summer. The bulbs will stay hydrated with just average moisture during the summer and don’t need supplemental water. When fall temperatures cool, the bulbs will develop new roots and then wait for spring rains and warmth to prompt the next cycle of growth and blooms.
Forcing Bulbs & Pre-Chilled Bulbs
Planning to force your bulbs or plant pre-chilled bulbs in winter? Read this! Forcing Bulbs & Pre-Chilled Bulbs
- Plant about 10 bulbs per square foot. They’ll spread over time.
- Unlike most spring flowering bulbs, grape hyacinths often produce tufts of foliage in the fall. While a bit unusual, this isn’t grounds for concern; it’s normal for these plants.
- Muscari flowers are fragrant; plant where you can enjoy the scent. The more you plant, the more fragrance there is.
- Have limited gardening space? Grape hyacinths grow well in containers. They are delightful with dwarf daffodils.
- These are adorable little flowers for a bud vase on your bedside table.
- If you live in a warm part of the country, where spring arrives early, make sure to plant your outdoor grape hyacinths by late November to give the bulbs time to root in. Otherwise, they may begin to sprout before supporting roots have developed.
shop grape hyacinths
By Julie Christensen
Native to Asia and southern Europe, grape hyacinths (Muscari armeniacum) make a long-lived, maintenance-free addition to the spring bulb garden. Unlike tulips, they don’t peter out after a year, but steadily spread over several years. In fact, you may have to dig them up after a few years to keep them in bounds. Grape hyacinth bulbs are also easier to plant than most spring bulbs because they only need a planting depth of 3 inches.
Grape hyacinth flowers belong to the lily family and are distantly related to hyacinths. They’re smaller than regular hyacinths, growing only 8 inches tall. They produce clusters of blue or purple flowers on thin stalks that resemble tiny bunches of grapes. The flowers are scented, although their fragrance lacks the heady intensity of hyacinths.
Unlike most spring flowering bulbs, the strap-like foliage of grape hyacinths dies back in the spring after the plants bloom, only to reemerge in fall. The foliage survives through the winter unless the weather is extremely cold. Grape hyacinths are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8. They need at least 10 to 12 weeks of cold dormancy to bloom well in the spring.
Planting and Growing Grape Hyacinths
Buy and plant grape hyacinths in bulk for the best display. Choose bulbs that are firm and free of any nicks or cuts. Avoid those with black spots or other signs of fungal disease. Plant the small, onion-shaped bulbs in the fall, at least six weeks before the first heavy frost so the roots become established. Amend the soil with compost and a bit of bone meal at planting time.
Plant grape hyacinths in sun or shade. They’ll grow more quickly in sun, but blooms tend to last longer in partial shade. Grape hyacinths bloom for three weeks in mid-to-late spring, a bit later than most other spring-blooming bulbs, so the leaves may already have unfurled on deciduous trees. This is important to remember. Most spring-blooming bulbs bloom before trees bear leaves, so they have full sun even when planted under trees. This may not be the case with grape hyacinths.
Water the bulbs immediately after planting them and again in the spring, as soon as new growth emerges. Keep the soil slightly moist during the flowering season. Cut back the foliage only after it completely dies back to the ground in early summer. Fertilize grape hyacinths after blooming with ¼ cup bone meal for every 100 square feet of soil.
Potential Pests and Problems
Grape hyacinths are generally pest and problem free, although they are prone to viruses. Plant the bulbs in well-draining soil and space them adequately. Use soaker hoses, rather than overhead sprinklers to control the spread of disease and remove any diseased plants promptly.
Grape hyacinths spread both by division and self-seeding and they can become invasive. Plant them in rock gardens, containers or other areas with clearly defined boundaries. Dig up and divide the plants in fall if they become too numerous.
Varieties to Try
- ‘Album’ produces fragrant, white flowers, but it has less vigor than standard blue varieties.
- ‘Fantasy Creation’ has double-blue flowers.
- ‘Superstar’ is an extravagant plant. The stalks produce deep-blue flowers fringed with white. The top flowers are a paler blue.
- ‘Blue Spike’ is a late-blooming plant with flax-blue flowers.
To learn more about grape hyacinths, visit the following links:
Grape Hyacinth: Small Plants with Big Impact from Iowa State University Extension
Grape Hyacinth from the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension
A good video overview of growing grape hyacinth on YouTube.
by David Salman
A beautiful display of Muscari Mix Delft Blue
Easy. Sweet. Pays big dividends.
If you are looking for a bulb that is super easy to plant, that tolerates sun, shade and in-between, and that returns each spring with more fragrant, colorful, long-lasting blooms – look no further. A love affair with grape hyacinth is about to begin! Growing muscari provides huge displays for a small amount of work.
Muscari are native to the meadows and forests of southern Europe and the Mediterranean.Muscari (grape hyacinth) blooms in mid-spring with cheery spikes of flowers, like clusters of tiny grapes that often last for a month. The sweet fragrance reminds us that summer days are soon to follow.The word, “Muscari” refers to the musk, or sweet scent of the flowers.
Growing Muscari: Planting Tips
The most important things to remember about Muscari bulbs is that They Are Not Fussy!
They are happy to grow in sun to almost full shade, in soil that has been amended with compost or not. Best of all, they only need to be planted 3 inches deep, and 2-3 inches apart, making them quick and easy to plant. Muscari flowers will grow and thrive in zones 3-9. Plant them in the fall, a few weeks before frost.
While Muscari flowers resemble hyacinth flowers, they are a separate genus, even though their common name is grape hyacinth. They are deer resistant favorites that, when happy, can spread (naturalize) to form dense carpets of spring color. Flower spikes are a plucky 6-8 inches tall, making them a perfect companion for tulips and daffodils.
Muscari paired with Daffodils makes a striking combination.
Growing Muscari: Colorful Combinations
Grape hyacinth can also help to wake up a spring rock garden or brighten up spaces under perennials or deciduous trees that haven’t yet leafed in. Muscari make fabulous border plants as well. Try planting them along paths or create a garden ‘river ‘or ‘pond’ by planting them en masse between larger plantings.
Combine with snowdrops, wildflower iris, wildflower daffodils and tulips for a colorful spring mix. As you plant your larger spring blooming bulbs, add in some Muscari to the top layer. They’ll mix in and spread, giving you a colorful carpet for the larger flowers.
Another favorite design is to plant Muscari armeniacum (dark blue) with white flowers, such as daffodil ‘Stainless’ or ‘Toto’. The deep blue of Muscari resonates against the white flowers for a tranquil combination.
Growing Muscari: Plant Grape Hyacinth Bulbs Densely
It’s important to plant lots of bulbs to get a pleasing effect. I like to plant in groups of at least 25 bulbs. Planting densely will increase the lovely fragrance they share as well. They look best in drifts and masses where the beauty of the small blooms can create a striking wash of pure color.
Muscari are most well known for their deep cobalt-blue flowers, but there are white varieties too, and almost every tint between the two. Yellows and pinks can be found as well, but the traditional blues and whites keep me enthralled.
Keep the soil moist during growth, but reduce watering as the plant begins to die back. Be sure to let the foliage die back before removing, so that the bulbs can fill their storehouses for blooms the following year.
Muscari armeniacum’s lovely bell-shaped petals are great for attracting pollinators to your garden.
Muscari flowers stay in bloom for a long time! Many flowers last for a full month, making them abundant sources of spring color. Muscari flowers are also good sources of spring pollen for honeybees and other small beneficial insects. They make lovely cut flowers too.
Growing Muscari: Caring For Grape Hyacinth Bulbs
As soon as the flowers fade, cut them back with scissors, leaving the stems to nourish the bulb. Apply a layer of compost in the fall and if they sprout leaves in the fall, not to worry, they’re just gathering a bit more bulb fuel. Let them die back naturally.
Let your imagination be your guide as you experiment with these resilient, easy care plants.
While there are over 40 species of Muscari, these are five favorites.
- Muscari armeniacum It is the most cultivated variety, with bell shaped, cobalt blue flowers whose tiny petals are dipped in a touch of white. Heirloom variety. Naturalizes (spreads) easily.
- Muscari aucheri ‘Dark Eyes’ Almost conical flower clusters, the dark blue flowers are edged with white, highlighting the ‘dark eye’. Naturalize well.
- Muscari botryoides ‘Album’ White flowered, ‘Album’ is lovely amongst brightly colored spring flowers or in rock gardens. Naturalizes well.
- Muscari armeniacum Peppermint® I love Peppermint® when pastels are desired. Each flower is a cascade of blue tints, like a tiny color wheel. Great in containers.
- Delft Blue Mix If a mix of colors in blues and whites is your wish, you can’t go wrong with the Delft Blue Mix. Blue, white and everything in between.
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Date April 28, 2016
Yellow is the colour of spring, from the glorious sunlight that is now (sometimes) washing over the gardens, to the bright tulips that burst into life in the Wilderness at Hampton Court. This part of the Gardens has justly become famous for its carpet of yellow, orange, cream coloured daffodils with their multi-coloured petals some with contrasting trumpets and some just plain sunny yellow.
I don’t want to talk about daffodils, I want to discuss the array of BLUE flowers standing proud among the daffodils. Can you spot the difference between these BLUE SPRING BULBS ?
Scilla Siberia these spreading beauties have dainty dark blue slightly bent nodding heads
Chionodoxa also known as glory-of-the-snow they are blue with a perfect star shape in the middle of the flower.
Wood Anemone, my favourite of the wilderness blue flowers with their daisy like blooms and frilly dark green leaves spreading freely where they feel.
Puschkinia libanotica, a pale blue bulb originating from Turkey and is easily mistaken for scilla.
Hyacinth, the blue are the most heady with perfume ours have multi headed blooms so they are around for ages.
Bluebell or latin name hyacinthoides non –scripts we have English bluebells and Spanish bluebells.The English blooms are darker,smaller with slightly nodding bend heads. The Spanish are larger sturdy paler in colour good for cut flowers.
Muscari or grape hyacinth , they have knobbly heads like a bunch of grapes ranging from pale to dark blue
We hope you’ll make your way down to the Gardens at Hampton Court Palace soon and find your own favourites!
Craft Gardener, Gardens
Small Blue Bulbs
The prima donnas of the spring garden may be the vibrant and showy daffodils and tulips but as with all well stage-managed productions it is the smaller, bit parts that complete the show. Often overlooked, these small, blue flowered bulbs are the perfect foil for the brighter colours of other spring bulbs, especially the golden yellow of daffodils. Yellow and blue is one of the most reliable colour combinations, guaranteed to add a little drama to an otherwise bland scene. The majority of these bulbs are also easy and very reliable, tolerating most soils and conditions providing that the soil is not actually waterlogged and there is sun for at least part of the day while they are in flower. The only downside is that some are a little too easy and can become invasive. Virtually every garden I know has at least one clump of either the almost evergreen Grape Hyacinth, Muscari neglectum, with its dark blue flowers or the paler M.armenaicum. Although both are rapid increasers and probably too vigorous for most borders they are excellent naturalised under deciduous trees. For a bolder effect, and I like to grow mine in pots with yellow pansies, why not try the double flowered form M.armenaicum ‘Blue Spike’ with its massive flower heads?
If you are looking for something more refined and certainly more restrained then I would suggest M.latifolium with its single broad leaf and striking light and dark blue two-tone flower. Although it will produce seedlings, it does so in a restrained manner, never exceeding its welcome. The almost turquoise blue of M. azureum is hard to beat. This dwarf gem, only 6cm tall, produces rounded, rather tubby flowers and is small enough not to swamp neighbouring rock plants. I also use it very effectively at the front of a sunny herbaceous border.
The most unusual Grape hyacinths are the Tassel Hyacinths (M.comosum) with their cluster of brilliant violet sterile flowers held above the creamy-brown fertile flowers. At 40cm these are one of the tallest. They are also much later flowering, in May rather than the more normal March-April for most Muscari. In the double form M.c. ‘Plumosum’ all the purple flowers are sterile, resulting in a huge, open head of feathery flowers.
The Scillas are the most versatile of spring bulbs. Scilla bifolia is one of the earliest bulbs to flower, often with the snowdrops. It has a raceme of small, intense blue starry flowers and needs to be planted in significant numbers to make an impact. The unpronounceable Scilla mischtschenkoana ‘Tubergeniana’ is one of the absolute must bulbs for any garden. The ice-blue flowers, which open out almost flat, first appear in February and continue well into March. Sunshine and a well-drained soil is all it requires and they are equally at home in a bed or in thin grass with crocuses under a deciduous tree.
Taller and later flowering Scilla sibirica ‘Spring Beauty’ has nodding flowers of intense royal blue. I mass it round the base of a winter flowering cherry and use it to edge a path in my herb garden. I am particularly fond of the quiet charms of Scilla lilio-hyacinthus. This little woodland gem, with broad, fleshy leaves and pyramidal heads of sky-blue delights in a cool, humus rich soil in part shade.
Chionodoxas, commonly called Glory of the Snow, are a close relative of the Scillas. All have a cluster of upward facing blue flowers that appear in March. Coming from high mountains they are very hardy but do not like to be too hot in the summer. They are therefore excellent planted in beds round the base of trees or among shrubs where they will seed in time to form a blue carpet. Nothing is quite as beautiful as a white magnolia in full flower above a sea of blue chionodoxa. I also grow mine with hostas in a woodland bed as they flower well before the hosta leaves unfurl. Chionodoxa sardensis is the smallest with intense blue flowers. Chionodoxa forbesii has larger flowers with a paler centre whilst Chionodoxa lucilliae (which used to be called Chionodoxa gigantea) is the tallest, 14cm, and has paler blue flowers and a bold white eye. Sadly they do not like the competition from grass and are best grown in beds. White and pink flowered forms are also available. Puschkinia scilloides, with its chunky clusters of dark striped pale blue flowers, is another scilla relative.
The name Scilla is often misapplied to Bluebells, which are more correctly called Hyacinthoides and need little introduction. The true British native, H non-scriptus, is best grown in the dry shade of deciduous woodland and is too vigorous for all but the largest or wildest gardens. The bolder Spanish counterpart with its stiff racemes of flowers is equally at home in woodland or a border. Both, once established, can be invasive but who can forget the sight of massed bluebells in dappled sunlight beneath the fresh green leaves of a beech tree. One tip if you are growing them in a border, is to carefully dead head the bulbs as soon as the flowers fade.
These are among the easiest of spring bulbs to cultivate, having no special requirements other than a free draining soil in sun or part shade. They are cheap enough to plant in large numbers for the greatest impact. The bulbs should be planted in the autumn 6-7cm deep and 1-2cm apart. Most will seed more or less vigorously and unwanted seedlings can be moved to a new location once they are large enough to handle – after 3-4 years. Some of the more vigorous Grape Hyacinths will also produce many offsets and over crowded clumps can be lifted and divided, either in the spring or autumn once the leaves appear.
This article was first published in the English Garden April 2003
Types of Spring-Blooming Bulbs
There’s nothing that says spring more than the first blooms of our favorite bulbs. Review this list for some of the most common spring-blooming bulbs available for purchase. These bulbs generally arrive at our locations in early to mid-September. Plant them anytime between October thru November, though it is best to wait to plant tulips after soil temperatures stabilize below 50°F, which in our area usually is around mid-November.
Allium – Flowering Onion
Beautiful flowering members of the onion family. Plant 3 times the depth of the bulb. Most are 6” to 20” tall, but A. ‘Giganteum’, ‘Globemaster’, ‘Mont Blanc’, and ‘Gladiator’, grow 3 to 5 feet tall. Good for cutting.
Alliums prefer mostly sun, with well-draining soil. A. triquetrum and A. ursinum will tolerate
part-shade. Amend soil with builder’s sand or fine grit to ensure good drainage. A. ursinum will tolerate slightly damp soil.
Anemone – Grecian Windflower
Daisy-like pastel-colored flowers of white, pink or blue on 4” stems. Soak tubers overnight in lukewarm water, plant sideways, 2” deep. Use a humus-rich, loamy soil with a higher than average pH. Plant in partial sun with protection from wind to help prolong blooming.
Chionodoxa – Glory-of-the-Snow
6” tall, star-like flowers in pretty blue with a white center, bloom in early spring. The grass-like foliage of a rich, dark green color. Naturalizes well if planted 3” to 4” deep; full sun. Use a well-drained soil for best results.
Crocus bulbs are the harbingers of spring, as they are usually the first spring bulb to bloom in your yard. Their small size and ability to grow and thrive practically anywhere make them one of the easiest bulbs to plant. Blooms magnificent colors of purples, whites, yellows, or striped varieties on a single bloom that closes at night or on cloudy days.
Plant 3 inches deep and 4 inches apart during the fall in a well-drained soil. Full sun to partial shade.
Eranthis – Winter Aconite
4” tall golden-yellow flowers announce early spring. Soak pea-sized tubers overnight, plant sideways, 2” deep in full sun to partial shade. Plant in masses in a well-drained soil for best results.
Fritillaria imperialis “Crown Imperial”–Crowns of yellow or red on 3’ stems. Bulbs have a musky odor said to repel rodents. Plant bulb tilted to one side, so water won’t collect in center crevices. Plant 5” to 6” deep; sun and well-draining soil, amended with sand or fine grit.
Fritillaria meleagris “Checker Lilies”–Dainty nodding flowers in white or checkered maroon on 12” stems.Plant 3” to 4” deep; part-shade. Best if planted soon after purchase.
Fritillaria michaelovsky “Michael’s Flower”–Nodding bells of purple/bronze edged with gold. Plant these like F. meleagris.
Fritillaria persica “Persian Fritillary”–3-foot spires of plum-purple flowers. Plant these like F. imperialis.
Galanthus – Common Snowdrop
4” tall dainty white flowers in very early spring. Plant these pest-proof bulbs 3” to 4” deep; part-sun to light shade. Pretty when naturalized in lawns.
Incredibly fragrant flowers in a rainbow of colors. Blooms in mid- to late-March. Plant 6” deep; full to half-day sun.
Hyacinths ‘Festival’ –Multi-flowering in pink, blue, and white, similar to the old French Roman Hyacinths. Wonderfully fragrant. Plant these like regular hyacinths.
Hyacinthoides hispanica (Scilla campanulata) “Wood Hyacinths” “Spanish Bluebells”–Excellent
woodland flowers in white, pink, and blue, naturalize well. Plant 4” deep; bright shade.
Hyacinthoides non-scripta “English Bluebells”–This is the woodland hyacinth found naturalized so
beautifully in England. Lovely violet-blue flowers are sweetly fragrant. Plant 4” deep; bright shade; leave to naturalize.
German Bearded Iris–Large, soft flowers in a wide variety of colors. Blooms late spring. Plant the rhizome just beneath the soil surface; full sun. Dust the rhizome with Bulb Dust before planting, to deter iris borers.
Iris “Dutch Iris”–24” tall flowers in assorted colors bloom in late spring (May). Plant 4” deep; full to half day sun.
Iris reticulata or Iris danfordiae–6” tall, very early blooming. Flowers in shades of purple/blue (reticulata) or yellow (Danfordiae). Plant this like Dutch Iris.
Muscari “Grape Hyacinths”–6” spikes of small round flowers in white or shades of blue. Naturalizes especially well if planted 3” to 4” deep; part sun
Narcissus “Daffodils” “Jonquils”—One of the best-loved flowers, and for good reason. Naturalizes beautifully; not bothered by pests. Cup-like, trumpet flowers come in whites, pinks, yellows, oranges, and mixes of various colors. Plant twice the depth of the bulb in a well-drained soil enriched with organic matter; full to part-sun.
When people think of spring bulbs, the tulip is probably one of the first varieties thought of. Tulip bulbs are plentiful and come in a variety of colors too extensive to name here. Plant 4 – 8” deep and 4 – 8″ apart for best results. Plant in full sun in a well-drained, sandy soil. Plant in mid-November when the ground temperatures have stabilized at below 50 degrees. Until then, store in paper or mesh bag in a cool, dark place.