Springtime is bulb planting time, and that’s why they are virtually ubiquitous in Western gardens in spring. If you want to grow spring plants with lovely flowers, nothing can be better than bulbs, as they are among the easiest of garden plants to grow. But just what kinds of bulbs are best for spring?
Grape hyacinths are some of the best multiplying bulbs you can grow. They produce bunches of flowers that resemble grapes, hence their name. Grape hyacinths remain lovely for weeks, and are good for bouquets. For spring bulbs, they are among the earliest to rise out of the ground, and can be planted anywhere, in full sun, semi shade, or in flower beds. For an appealing combination, try growing some grape hyacinths beneath other spring flowering shrubs like Magnolia, Kerria japonica (Japanese Yellow Rose), and Viburnum carlesi.
The trout lilies are a group of popular lilies encompassing many species. Adder’s Tongue (Erythronium americanum) is good for spring planting in April and May. These lilies have graceful yellow petals and always seem to dance in the wind. They grow easily in any damp and slightly shaded areas. For purple blooms, try Erythronium japonicum, which has purple flowers and often used for ornamental gardens. The Pagoda Trout Lily (Erythronium revolutum), is more sublime lily with more ornamental petals.
If you want early bloomers, than Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) with their white, small blooms, are among the fastest of spring bulbs to come to life. But for mid spring onwards, you can still grow other springtime bulbs like Snowflakes (Leucojum vernum), and Summer Snowflakes (Leucojum aestivum), which are a good replacement for Snowdrops.
There are also a few other bulbs that you may be more familiar with, namely the Narcissus (Daffodil) family. Daffodils are without doubt some of the most widely loved among the bulbs. They can grow in almost any location, and through the efforts of breeders, many hybrids have now been developed, of which some varieties are said to be more resistant to rain and wind than others. More about daffodils/narcissus here.
You should be trying some varieties of unfamiliar daffodils, like the Campernelle jonquil (Narcissus odorus), with a rich scent and deep yellow in color, or the Soliel d’Or or Poet’s Narcissus. Poet’s Narcissus has nice white petals and its blooms are fragrant. You may like the Narcissus Incomparabilis with its deep toned flowers or Double Daffodils. Double Daffodils are daffodils with an extra set of petals, which means they can look like carnations from a distance. They pack more into bouquets and have a sweet, fresh scent.
Miniature daffodils are another type of daffodils worth exploring. These 5 examples are all about 6 inches high with small flowers and are best planted in slightly shaded areas.
- Narcissus bulbocodium conspicuous
- Narcissus minimum
- Narcissus canaliculatus
- Narcissus triandrus albus
- Narcissus cyclamineus
The other most popular spring bulbs are tulips. Tulips do not multiply like daffodils, but they will always regrow back year in and year out. Tulips have a habit of growing back long after you have forgotten about them, and there’s no telling what a tulip can do.
Some tulips that blossom in mid spring include:
- Tulipa Kaufmanniana (Waterlily Tulip)
- Tulipa Clusiana (Lady Tulip)
- Tulipa Acuminata (Horned Tulip)
- Tulipa Dasystemon
- Tulipa Eichleri
These tulips do not grow high and range from 6 inches to 15 inches in height. The Tulipa Eichleri from the Caucasus region bordering Turkey, is one of the most striking tulips with a scarlet flower and glossy black petal base. Great for a red carpet show.
For May blooming, you should try the Chameleon tulips, which are about 2 feet tall. They are so named because they change color from a pale yellow to scarlet orange over time, from the moment the petals unfold.
Another tulip suitable for May is the Parrot tulip, which is so named because of its large, curly, and feathered tipped petals which are often brightly colored, of every conceivable color, and don’t resemble your typical tulip. Currently, parrot tulips are slowly gaining popularity over the standard shaped tulips, because of their unconventional look.
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