Every Midwestern garden should include spring-blooming bulbs! From the early-blooming snowdrops to late-flowering alliums, bulbs can enhance the garden for a solid four months. Choose from options for sun or shade.
In central Indiana, we plant spring-blooming bulbs after the first frost date in mid-October for bloom the following spring. We begin ordering bulbs in August to get the best selection.
Nothing delivers quite the WOW factor that a big stand of tulips does. Because most tulips give a huge show the first spring after planting and then come back poorly if at all, think of them as annuals. If you want to increase the chances of your tulips returning, John Scheepers recommends choosing from species tulips, Kaufmanniana hybrids, Greigiis, and giant Darwin hybrids.
We love bulbs that come back year after year. Instead of putting on a big show and then petering out after a year or two, these bulbs return and even increase in number. Tops in this category are any kind of daffodil, squill (Scilla siberica, shown above), and grape hyacinth (Muscari spp.). Crocus will also naturalize, IF you can sneak it past the squirrels, who love to snack on it.
The Early Risers
For a hit of spring when you need it most, choose very early-blooming bulbs. White snowdrops (Galanthus spp.) and yellow winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) may bloom even while snow lingers on the ground. Other woodland flowers that make an early appearance are grape hyacinth (Muscari spp.), Crocus species, squill, and Anemone blanda (pictured above).
If you love indoor flowers, be sure to order your forcing bulbs when you order those for outdoors. Forcing is the art of bringing flowers into bloom at a different time than they normally would. Paperwhites and amaryllis are tender bulbs that don’t need chilling before being brought into bloom, and they’re favorites for Christmas time. Many hardy bulbs, like daffodil, hyacinth, and crocus, can be forced indoors to bloom long before they would bloom outdoors. These hardy bulbs need to be chilled for several weeks before being coaxed to bloom.
Add something a little out of the ordinary with these flowers, which look like they were designed by Dr. Seuss. Ornamental onions (Allium spp.), like the ones above, are a terrific late spring to early summer bloomer. Their round, purple blooms seem to float over the border. Checkered lily (Fritillaria meleagris) and other Fritillaria spp. bloom mid spring. The orange flower in the title photo is crown imperial (Fritillaria imperialis).
Not sure which would be the best bulbs for your garden? We’re happy to help you choose! Contact us to schedule your garden visit.