Spring Flowering Bulbs: Consider More Than the Usual Suspects

By Misty Kuceris, Horticulturalist, ©2019

I got interested in planting spring flowering bulbs in the fall season just after I purchased a new home many years ago. I could envision a space between my driveway and sidewalk where I would see the first sign of spring as I pulled into the driveway.

Initially I thought about planting the usual bulbs: crocus, tulips, and daffodils. But the more I researched bulbs the more I realized there were more possibilities than the “usual suspects.” It was long before I decided to plant these bulbs instead.

Galanthus (Snowdrops)

The first bulbs that I considered planting were the Galanthus, also know as snowdrops. What a wonderful name because they peak out through the snow during the winter months of January and February. They reminded me of how nature continues to grow even when the world seems dark and bleak. They grow in full sun to part shade and are deer resistant.

Scilla siberica (Siberian Squill)

The next bulbs I considered were the Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica). While they pop up in early spring, they can last well into the summer months. Since they do well in full sun to partial shade, I decided to plant them around my azalea bushes in the front yard because I wanted an earlier pop of color before the azaleas bloomed and have that color continue after the azaleas stopped blooming.

Scilla siberica (Siberian Squill)

From a distance, you might mistake the Siberian Squill for blue bells. But when you look at the blue flower closely, you’ll see they are star shaped. It also made me happy to know that these bulbs are also deer resistant. The only minor drawback, that I’ll live with, is that they like to spread. I’ve found them under my maple tree in the middle of my periwinkle as well as other parts of the yard.

Muscari (Grape Hyacinths)

If you love fragrance in your yard, definitely consider the Grape Hyacinth (Muscari).  The difference between the Grape Hyacinth and the other Hyacinth bulb is that the flowers of a Grape Hyacinth look like clusters of grapes. The most common flower colors are blue or purple, but you’ll also find white and yellow flowers. They grow in full sun to partial shade, are deer resistant, and bloom in mid-spring, which is around April or May. Because of their fragrance they are very bee friendly.

My favorite bulb is the Allium. For planting these bulbs, I found a location in my side yard up against the house. The reason wasn’t because of their bloom time which is in mid-summer when most of the other bulbs have finished blooming but because of their height. The flowers of Allium bulbs form balls on top of stalks which grow as much as four feet tall. Some of the flowers can get as large as six inches in diameter. They grow in full sun to partial shade and are deer resistant.

I guess you may see a small pattern here. I wanted bulbs that blossomed from January through the end of summer. I preferred planting deer resistant bulbs and those that would grow in various locations in my yard.

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