I’ve always breathed a sigh of relief when the daffodils start coming up because I know that spring is right around the corner. Fall is the best time to plant spring blooming bulbs. They need the winter cold to get ready to bloom. Bulbs get their energy from the foliage, so don’t cut it back after they bloom until it turns brown and dries out.
Crocus is a bulb planted in the fall that blooms in early spring often before any other bulbs. They grow only 4-6 inches tall and have small cup shaped blooms in yellows, pinks, blues, and white and show best when planted in mass. They will naturalize and create a large showing in future years. They like well drained soil and are planted 3-4” deep.
Hyacinths come in various sizes, colors, and flower formations. They bloom in early to mid-spring around the same time as daffodils. Flowers will open about 3 weeks after leaves start to emerge. Hyacinth bulbs can be forced indoors for enjoyment during the late winter months. Pot the bulbs in fall and chill them at 40-45 degrees for 12-14 weeks. Bring them out into a warm sunny room and you’ll have spring early.
Daffodils now come in a huge variety of colors from pure white to multi-colored. Plant them in the fall about 2-4 weeks before the first frost. Here in Montana, you will want a minimum of 3-5 inches of soil over the bulb to protect them from the snow and cold. Plant with the pointed end up. They look wonderful planted in drifts and will naturalize over time. Daffodils can also be forced indoors. Deer and squirrels tend to avoid daffodil bulbs.
Tulips are another bulb that has been hybridized to produce many varieties of petal shapes and colors. Tulips don’t like to be wet, so plant them in a dry area. If they are planted too early, they’ll send up shoots that might freeze. September and November before the ground freezes would be best. Squirrels love to dig up and eat tulip bulbs, so if they are a problem in your area, plant your bulbs in bins made for that purpose or put chicken wire or fencing on top of the bed and secure it with earth pins.
A little work now will pay off with spectacular color early next spring.