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15 Extraordinary Spring Flowering Bulbs to Plant in Fall (That Aren’t Just Tulips)

If you like tulips then there are a number of other spring-flowering bulbs that you will love! This list showcases bulb flowering plants that are super early bloomers, have stop-you-in-your-tracks fragrance, or produce unique flowers that give tulips a run for their money. Why not plant some of these bulbs this fall and create a stunning spring garden?

Beyond Tulips_ Extraordinary Fall Bulbs You Need to Grow!

Tulips are wonderful plants. Frilly parrot tulips, deep-dark-almost-black purple tulips, cheery giant tulips, and many more can be found in my garden beds.

But tulips aren’t the only spring-flowering bulbs I give space to in my garden. I get just as much (maybe even more) enjoyment out of these outstanding bulb flowering plants for the spring. And fall is the time to get them in the ground!

In this post, we will cover:

Sponsored Content: I’m proudly partnering with FlowerBulbs.com to share this list of extraordinary spring-flowering bulbs to plant in the fall. FlowerBulbs.com’s goal is to help spread information and love for gardening through bulbs. While I was creating this list of the bulbs I grow in my garden, I used the site as a resource for the growing information and some gorgeous photos. While this list is a compilation of my 12 favourite bulbs, corms, and tubers to plant in fall, there are many more to search through in FlowerBulbs.com’s spring database

What Bulbs Should be Planted in the Fall?

When planning bulbs to plant in the fall, you’re really preparing for spring! Bulb flowering plants that are planted in the fall are considered “hardy” bulbs, meaning they will make it through the winter.

In fact, they actually need wintertime in order to rest. Without the cold, they won’t bloom.

Once the snow begins to melt and the ground unthaws, it lets the bulb know that it’s time to emerge and bring on some spring colour.

You only want to plant hardy bulbs in the fall. Other bulbs do not like the cold and prefer to be planted in the spring and early summer. Refer to this list of flowers that grow from bulbs to know which ones will make it through your local winter.

A Flowing River of Muscari grape hyacinth bulbs

Bulbs, Corms, and Tubers

If you are scanning this list of bulbs to plant in the fall you just might feel compelled to shout, “Hey, that’s not a bulb!” I get it, words are important, especially when writing about plants.

Botanically, tulips grow from bulbs, but other plants that could be considered “flower bulbs” actually grow from corms (like crocuses) or tubers (like dahlias). Read more about this differentiation in this post on How to Plant Fall Bulbs.

15 Extraordinary Bulb Flowering Plants to Plant in the Fall

1. Snowdrop (Galanthus spp.)

Snowdrops with yellow crocus bacground

Snowdrops are close to my heart because they are the very first flower that shows its head in late winter, letting us know that spring is close at hand.

These delicate white and green bell-shaped flowers may seem unassuming, but in the winter when everything else is gray and brown and dreary, their sweet stalks and blooms are like a breath of fresh air.

Snowdrop bulbs can be hard to find in the fall, but if you’re lucky enough to stumble upon some at your local garden center, buy them and get them in the ground as soon as possible because they can dry out easily.

  • USDA zone: 3-8
  • Type of bulb: true bulb
  • Flower colour: white
  • Flowering period: February – March
  • Average plant height: 10 inches
  • Planting depth to base of bulb: 4 inches
  • Spacing between bulbs: 2 inches
  • Light requirements: full to partial shade
  • Landscape uses: borders, rock gardens, under trees and shrubs, and in lawn

2. Snowflake (Leucojum vernum)

'Stinzen' Snowflake flower bulbs

Snowflakes are similar to snowdrops in how early they bloom although they have six equal-length petals and are a much rarer bulb to come by. They love moist soil and are perfect planted beside a pond or water garden. These are well-suited for the rainy winter conditions of my Vancouver garden.

  • USDA zone: 3-8
  • Type of bulb: true bulb
  • Flower colour: white
  • Flowering period: February – March
  • Average plant height: 8 inches
  • Planting depth to base of bulb: 4 inches
  • Spacing between bulbs: 5 inches
  • Light requirements: partial shade
  • Landscape uses: borders, rock gardens, under shrubs and trees, and as cut flowers

3. Dutch Hyacinth (Hyacinthus spp.)

fall bulbs: hyacinth

Dutch hyacinths are not only gorgeous with their tightly clustered bell-shaped flowers in many  colours options, but they also have the most heavenly perfume!

In the Victorian era, hyacinths were revered for their scent. It was common to devote an entire garden to these fragrant flowers alone. Plant in full sun or partial shade and they will bloom in early spring.

  • USDA zone: 4-8
  • Type of bulb: true bulb
  • Flower colour: red, pink, orange, salmon, yellow, purple, white and blue
  • Flowering period: March – April
  • Average plant height: 10 inches
  • Planting depth to base of bulb: 8 inches
  • Spacing between bulbs: 6 inches
  • Light requirements: full sun to partial shade
  • Landscape uses: beds and borders

4. Grape Hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum)

Muscari Grape Hyacinth spring flowering bulb

Grape hyacinths are not at all related to Dutch hyacinths; they are the muscari genus which has about 30 different species. While they are all prolific bulbs that naturalize easily, the colours can range from white to deep blue, and of course, grape-purple.

Muscari look beautiful planted in rivers through gardens, and do extremely well in containers. The individual blooms may be diminutive, but grown together they are absolutely stunning.

Grape hyacinths bloom longer than most other spring flowering bulbs too. They make a great cut flower, they provide an early nectar source for pollinators (except for the double ones) and they are deer and rabbit resistant.

  • USDA zone: 4-8
  • Type of bulb: true bulb
  • Flower colour: blue, purple or white
  • Flowering period: March – May, depending on the species
  • Average plant height: 4 – 10 inches
  • Planting depth to base of bulb: 5 inches
  • Spacing between bulbs: 8 cm
  • Light requirements: full sun to partial shade
  • Landscape uses: borders, rock gardens, and under shrubs and trees

5. Checkered Lily (Fritillaria meleagris)

Checkered Lily Snake Lily Frittilaria

Fritillaria meleagris, are sometimes called Checkered Lily, Snake Lily, or guinea-hen flower. They look exotic with their downward-facing, bell-shaped flowers in purple and white checkers.

These spring flowering bulbs do well in the shade and thrive in moist soil. I visited a woodland garden where they naturalized easily and the masses of checkers beneath the mossy trees was picture perfect. Fritillaria bloom in mid-spring.

  • USDA zones: 3-8
  • Type of bulb: true bulb
  • Flower colour: purple or white
  • Flowering period: April – May
  • Average plant height: 10 inches
  • Planting depth to base of bulb: 4 inches
  • Spacing between bulbs: 2 inches
  • Light requirements: full sun to partial shade
  • Landscape uses: borders, rock gardens, lawns, under trees and shrubs, and perennial beds

6. Imperial Fritillaria (Fritillaria imperialis)

Crown Imperial Frittilaria plants

Imperial Fritillaria is every bit as weird to plant as it is to enjoy in the garden. The bulbs are large and they do not smell good, so you will want to get them planted as soon as they arrive. This also keeps them from getting damaged if the roots begin to sprout.

They have a distinctive musky smell when blooming, which isn’t for everyone but that scent deters moles, deer, and squirrels. I personally enjoy planting them because they look like they are wearing crowns.

  • USDA zones: 4-8
  • Type of bulb: true bulb
  • Flower colour: yellow, orange-red and red
  • Flowering period: April – May
  • Average plant height: 40 inches
  • Planting depth to base of bulb: 8 inches
  • Spacing between bulbs: 12 inches
  • Light requirements: full sun to partial shade (some shade is particularly important in warmer climatic zones)
  • Landscape uses: perennial beds and borders

7. Oxalis (Oxalis adenophylla)

Oxalis Flowering

Oxalis are lovely plants for both foliage and flowers. Known as Silver Shamrock, they have pretty clover-like leaves and pink blooms.

In the right conditions they are trouble-free plants that naturalize easily, resist pests and disease, and are even deer and rabbit proof. They are happy in sun or part shade, as long as there is excellent drainage. Rock gardens and pots are perfect for oxalis.

  • USDA zones: 4-9
  • Type of bulb: tuber
  • Flower colour: pink
  • Flowering period: June – July
  • Average plant height: 3 inches
  • Planting depth to base of bulb: 4 inches
  • Spacing between bulbs: 4 inches
  • Light requirements: full sun to partial shade
  • Landscape uses: borders and rock gardens

8. Dutch Iris (Iris × hollandica)

fall bulbs: iris

Dutch Iris produce elegant, deep blue or purple flower heads atop long, slender stalks, creating a stunning display that’s not to be missed.

In Greek mythology, the goddess Iris represented the link between heaven and earth, and it’s no wonder these heavenly flowers bear her name now.

Plant in a sunny area in early fall. Irises attract pollinators and make beautiful cut flowers.

  • USDA zones: 6-9
  • Type of bulb: true bulb
  • Flowering colour: deep and light blue, purple, yellow and white
  • Flowering period: June – July
  • Average plant height: 24 inches
  • Planting depth to base of bulb: 6 inches
  • Spacing between bulbs: 10
  • Light requirement: full sun
  • Landscape uses: beds, borders and as cut flowers

9. Crocus (IRIDACEAE SPP.)

Crocuses are a member of the iris family and one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring. They are beautiful and can be planted in the garden bed or directly in the lawn for a meadowy look (they’ll start to die back by the time the lawn comes in enough to need mowing).

They are also wonderful to for layering in beds or pots above other bulbs or perennials as they provide early blooms and die back just as the later flowers begin to sprout.

In addition to providing colourful early spring blooms in purple, white, and yellow, crocus are a beneficial source of pollen for our bee friends.

  • USDA zones: 3-9
  • Type of bulb: corm
  • Flower colour: yellow, white, purple, striped and bronze
  • Flowering period: February – March
  • Average plant height: 3 – 8 inches
  • Planting depth to base of bulb: 8 inches
  • Spacing between bulbs: 1 inch
  • Light requirements: full sun to partial shade
  • Landscape uses: borders, rock gardens, in lawns, under shrubs and trees, and for indoor forcing

10. Ornamental Onion (ALLIUMS SPP.)

Globemaster Allium

Ok, I’ll admit, I’m addicted to alliums! These powerhouses are gorgeous and unique ornamentals, tasty edibles, and some varieties have sculptural seed heads that can be dried and used as striking home décor.

For more information, see this Essential Guide to Alliums.

  • USDA zones: 3-9
  • Type of bulb: true bulb
  • Flower colour: white, purple, pink, burgundy
  • Flowering period: April – June
  • Average plant height: 10 – 68 inches
  • Planting depth to base of bulb: varies, follow species instructions
  • Spacing between bulbs: varies, follow species instructions
  • Light requirements: full sun
  • Landscape uses: perennial gardens, borders, fresh-cut and dried

11. Anemone (ANEMONE CORONARIA)

Mix spring flowering bulbs Blue Anemone - yellow-blue

During the nineteenth century in Europe, people believed that anemone flowers would ward off bad luck, so planting these might just bring you luck and will certainly yield a ton of beauty in the garden.

Anemones are hardworking plants with flowers in striking deep jewel tones. They produce many blooms from each tuber so they are a great cutting flower that just keeps going from spring to summer.

Tip: soak the tubers for a couple of hours before planting.

  • USDA zones: 7-10
  • Type of bulb: tuber
  • Flower colour: blue, red, white, pink
  • Flowering period: May-August
  • Average plant height: 12 – 16 inches
  • Planting depth to base of bulbs: 2 inches
  • Spacing between bulbs: 4 inches
  • Light requirements: sun or light shade in a sheltered spot (afternoon sun)
  • Landscape uses: border, beds, pots

12. Daffodil (NARCISSUS SPP.)

Daffodil Farm in Washington State

The sunny yellow trumpets of daffodils are a symbol of spring season change and look striking when planted en masse.

Before you pass by this beauty as too common, it’s worth having a look at some of the gorgeous varieties that show why the Narcissus species was aptly named after the Greek god known for his beauty.

Check out the ruffled blooms of double daffodils as well as unique colours like  “Westward,” “Pink Wonder,”  “Tahiti,” and “Sorbet.”

  • USDA zones: 3-8
  • Type of bulb: true bulb
  • Flower colour: white, yellow, orange, red and pink
  • Flowering period: February – May
  • Planting depth to base of bulb: large bulbs: 8 inches; small bulbs: 5 inches
  • Spacing between bulbs: 3 inches for large bulbs; 1 inch for small bulbs
  • Light requirements: full sun to full shade
  • Landscape uses: Daffodils are suitable for almost every possible application: fields, beds, containers, borders, rock gardens, as cut flowers, and for forcing.
Narcissus Westward
Narcissus Westward

13. Indian Quamash (Camassia spp.)

camassia
Camassia leichtlinii

Originally from North America, you would find these gorgeous flowers growing on mountainsides and along the prairie.

Little known, only 3 species are commonly cultivated including the camassia cusickii and camassia leichtlinii. They’re a very natural-looking flower perfect for cottage gardens and they fit in amongst perennials and ground covers.

  • USDA zones: 4-11
  • Type of bulb: true bulb
  • Flower colour: creamy white and light blue
  • Flowering period: May-June
  • Planting depth to base of bulb: 6 inches
  • Spacing between bulbs: 8 inches
  • Light requirements: full sun to partial shade
  • Landscape uses: beds, borders, as cut flowers, fields, ground covers, and rock gardens

14. Sicilian Honey Lily (Nectaroscordum siculum)

Sicilian honey lily
Nectaroscordum siculum

Once found in the hills of Turkey, Sicilian honey lily now grows naturally throughout southern France and Sicily. The unique and delicate flowers hang down, the petals a creamy white with added purple and green hues.

They pair well with many different plants, especially late-flowering tulips, attracting bees and butterflies galore due to their high amounts of pollen and nectar. After they’re done flowering, keep the decorative seed heads for continued garden interest.

  • USDA zones: 3-9
  • Type of bulb: true bulb
  • Flower colour: creamy white with purple and green stripes
  • Flowering period: May-June
  • Planting depth to base of bulb: 6-8 inches
  • Spacing between bulbs: 6-8 inches
  • Light requirements: sun to partial shade
  • Landscape uses: ornamental gardens

15. Orchid Iris (Iris orchioides)

Orchid iris flowers bloom very early in the spring for an early pop of colour. Each stem can grow up to three flowers, with long, sword-like leaves.

You can find a few orchid iris mixtures when shopping for bulbs, providing a range of complimentary colours.

  • USDA zones: 3-9
  • Type of bulb: true bulb
  • Flower colour: yellow
  • Flowering period: early spring
  • Planting depth to base of bulb: 3 inches
  • Spacing between bulbs: 2-3 inches
  • Light requirements: sun to partial shade
  • Landscape uses: borders, rock gardens, and under trees and shrubs

More Posts to Read

Comments

  1. Daffodils are definitely my favorite since they last a long time and different varieties make their season extend from early to very late spring.

    Reply
  2. My favorite are the dutch hyacinths, I love the way they smell, the first smells of spring in the early morning. And they are beautiful to look at as well. Many colors to add to the garden.

    Reply

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