15 Bulbs To Plant This Fall For Beautiful Blooms Next Spring

Daffodils and Tulips Blooming
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

As garden catalogs fill your mailbox, it is hard not to get excited about spring-blooming bulbs. From classic tulips and daffodils to exotic-looking fritillaria, there are hundreds of bulbs to choose from. However, not all bulbs thrive in the unique growing conditions of the Southeast. We’re here to help you identify the best bulbs to plant in fall for a magnificent spring display.

When selecting bulbs, consider flowering time, especially when pairing two or more varieties. Many species include early- and late-blooming cultivars. One planting strategy is to incorporate bulbs that flower at different times to ensure a continuous bloom throughout spring. You might also consider grouping complementary bulbs that flower in sync, such as grape hyacinth and daffodils or winter aconite with snowdrops. Consider height as well as flower color when pairing bulbs.

Tips For Planting Bulbs

The rule of thumb when planting bulbs is to place them at a depth that is three times the height of the bulb. Bulbs also have an upside and a down side. The bottom is usually flatter and may have a small tuft of roots attached or a flattened scar where roots previously grew. Larger bulbs like tulips should be spaced 3 to 6 inches apart, while smaller bulbs can be placed closer together, at about 1 to 2 inches. 

After plants bloom, allow the foliage to die back naturally. While the yellowing foliage may be unsightly, it is important to leave the leaves in place until they have died back completely. Instead of cutting, try hiding the fading foliage by planting bulbs among summer perennials, under deciduous shrubs, or over planting bulbs with annuals.

01
of 15

Botanical Tulips

Blooming Tulips
GETTY IMAGES
  • Botanical Name: Tulipa species
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-draining, Rich
  • Soil pH: Neutral (6.5-7.5)

Many gardeners, especially those working in clay soils, have trouble getting tulips to return each season. The showy hybrids are simply bred for one big show and do not typically perpetuate. If you are looking for tulips that return year after year, consider planting botanical or species tulips such as Tulipa fosterianaT. clusianaT. greigii, and T. kaufmanniana. Though not as showy as their hybrid counterparts, species tulips readily naturalize in the garden. Plant them on a berm or in an area that is somewhat dry in summer to encourage establishment.

02
of 15

Jonquil Daffodils

Blooming Daffodils
GETTY IMAGES
  • Botanical Name: Narcissus hybrids
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
  • Soil Type: Average, Well-draining
  • Soil pH: Slightly Acidic to Neutral (6.0-7.0)

Daffodils are divided into divisions based mainly upon shape or form. Jonquil is a division of daffodils widely adapted to southern gardens and quite tolerant of clay soils. Most have narrow, dark green foliage and wonderfully fragrant flowers. They produce multiple flowers per stem and are very hardy plants. Each cultivar has a slightly different combination of yellow, white, cream, and gold. Intermix several varieties to create a striking display along the length of the bed.

03
of 15

Ornamental Onions

Ornamental Onions
GETTY IMAGES
  • Botanical Name: Allium species and hybrids
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
  • Soil Type: Dry to Medium, Well-draining, Average to Rich Fertility
  • Soil pH: Slightly Acidic (5.5-6.5)

Ornamental onions are among the most playful fall-planted bulbs, with many varieties producing large, globe shaped blooms. Ornamental onions bloom late spring into summer, primarily in shades of purple, pink, and blue, with some white cultivars available. Flowers attract bees and butterflies, making a great addition to pollinator gardens. Alliums also work well in rock gardens and mixed borders.

04
of 15

Crocus

Crocus
GETTY IMAGES
  • Botanical Name: Crocus species and hybrids
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
  • Soil Type: Medium, Well-draining, Average Fertility
  • Soil pH: Slightly Acidic to Neutral (6.0-7.0)

Blooming in vibrant yellow or purple, depending on the species, crocus often flower through a dusting of snow in cooler regions. They are commonly massed in lawns, where the linear foliage disappears among grass blades when the flowers fade. Tuck crocus along pathways or mass in woodland gardens and watch winter-weary bees flock to the blooms.

05
of 15

Winter Aconite

Winter Aconite
GETTY IMAGES
  • Botanical Name: Eranthis hyemalis
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-draining, Rich
  • Soil pH: Neutral to Alkaline (7.0-8.5)

This woodland beauty blooms in late winter to early spring, producing cheery yellow cup-shaped flowers atop frilly foliage. Plants grow from a tuber rather than a true bulb but follow the same cycle of blooming and dormancy as spring flowering bulbs. Plants in the Southeast thrive in partial shade conditions, where soil moisture is consistent. Winter aconite is perfect for naturalizing in woodland gardens.

06
of 15

Grape Hyacinth

Blue grape hyacinth
GETTY IMAGES
  • Botanical Name: Muscari armeniacum
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
  • Soil Type: Medium, Well-draining, Average Fertility
  • Soil pH: Slightly Acidic to Neutral (6.0-7.0)

This delightful bulb gets its name from its densely packed violet-blue flowers that resemble a cluster of grapes. Individual blooms are bell-shaped and provide a rich source of pollen for native bees. Grape hyacinth readily naturalizes in lawns and under trees, producing drifts of color in mid spring.

07
of 15

Summer Snowflake

Summer Snowflake flowers
GETTY IMAGES
  • Botanical Name: Leucojum aestivum
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
  • Soil Type: Medium, Well-draining, Rich
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Alkaline (5.5-8.5)

Perfect for massing beneath deciduous trees and shrubs, summer snowflakes naturalize to form large drifts that put on a stunning spring flower display (not summer blooms, as their common name suggests). Drooping, bell-shaped flowers sport white petals with green dots along the edge. Plants tolerate wet soils and look lovely lining stream banks.

08
of 15

Dutch Iris

Blue Dutch Iris
GETTY IMAGES
  • Botanical Name: Iris hybrids (Dutch hybrid group)
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
  • Soil Type: Medium, Well-draining, Average Fertility
  • Soil pH: Acidic (5.5-6.5)

A favorite among florists, Dutch iris bloom toward the end of spring with gorgeous purple, yellow, or white blooms. Despite their name, Dutch iris originated from species native to Spain, Morocco, Portugal, and other Mediterranean countries. Unlike most iris, these darlings grow from a bulb, not a rhizome. They are easy to grow, resist deer browsing, and tolerate black walnut trees.

09
of 15

Chess Flower

Fritillaria meleagris
GETTY IMAGES
  • Botanical Name: Fritillaria meleagris
  • Sun Exposure: Part Shade to Dappled Sun
  • Soil Type: Medium to Moist, Well-draining, Rich
  • Soil pH: Slightly Acidic to Slightly Alkaline (6.1 – 7.8)

The dainty bell-shaped flowers of chess lily are named for their unusual checkerboard markings that add a touch of whimsy to the spring garden. Site this bulb along pathways or at the front of borders where you can admire the beautifully veined petals in shades of burgundy, purple, white, and gray. Chess flower bulbs have an unusual shape that tends to capture water, which can cause bulbs to rot. Plant bulbs on their sides in well-drained soil to avoid this problem.

10
of 15

White Squill

White Squill
GETTY IMAGES
  • Botanical Name: Scilla mischtschenkoana
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
  • Soil Type: Medium to Moist, Well-draining, Rich
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Slightly Alkaline (5.5-8.0)

Easy to grow in typical garden soils, white squill is an early bloomer, sending up flowers in late winter to early spring. The star-shaped blooms are produced in loose, upright clusters. Each white to pale blue petal has a distinctive, dark blue line along its center. Use white squill for edging paths or plant in masses under trees and shrubs. Avoid the closely related Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) which is invasive in several states.

11
of 15

Windflower

Windflowers
GETTY IMAGES
  • Botanical Name: Anemonoides (Anemone) blanda
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
  • Soil Type: Medium, Well-draining, Rich
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Alkaline (5.0-8.5)

With deeply cut foliage and showy blooms, windflower looks stunning in large drifts along woodland edges, mixed borders, and rock gardens. Flowers range from rich blue, purple, and burgundy to pink or white and are a favorite spring cut flower. Plant as a skirt beneath taller spring flowering bulbs like daffodils. Plants naturalize well and tolerate black walnut trees.

12
of 15

Snowdrops

Snowdrop Flowers
GETTY IMAGES
  • Botanical Name: Galanthus nivalis
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
  • Soil Type: Medium, Well-draining, Average
  • Soil pH: Slightly Acidic to Slightly Alkaline (6.0-8.0)

Named for the time of year in which they bloom, snowdrops are among the earliest spring (late winter) bulbs to bloom, producing white, honey scented, bell-shaped blooms as early as February. Snowdrops readily naturalize and are best planted in drifts along woodland edges or under large trees. Tuck clumps into rock gardens or along pathways. Plants tolerate clay soil and grow well beneath black walnut trees.

13
of 15

Wild Hyacinth

Wild Hyacinth
GETTY IMAGES
  • Botanical Name: Camassia scilloides
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
  • Soil Type: Moist, Well-draining, Rich
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Neutral (5.0-7.2)

This native wildflower is a member of the lily family that produces stunning spikes of fragrant bloom sin shades of pale blue, pink, or white. Flower spikes open sequentially from the bottom to the top, with approximately twenty flowers per stem. These showy blooms make excellent cut flowers and attract native bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Plants require good moisture to bloom but tolerate drier soils when dormant.

14
of 15

Golden Spider Lily

Golden Spider Lily
GETTY IMAGES
  • Botanical Name: Lycoris aurea
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
  • Soil Type: Medium, Well-draining, Average Fertility
  • Soil pH: Neutral to Slightly Alkaline (7.0-8.0)

Although they bloom in late summer to autumn, these flowering bulbs are typically planted in fall because they need a long time to establish. In fact, you might not see blooms until the second growing season, but the eye-catching flowers are worth the wait. Blooming in a rich golden yellow hue with recurved petals and showy stamens, the flowers are adored by butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.

15
of 15

Spring Starflower

Ipheion uniflorum
GETTY IMAGES
  • Botanical Name: Ipheion uniflorum
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
  • Soil Type: Medium, Well-draining, Average Fertility
  • Soil pH: Acidic to Neutral (5.5-7.0)

This dainty flower reaches just six inches tall, making a lovely edge for pathways. Flowers are typically pale blue to lavender, darkening along the midrib and toward the tip of each petal. Pink and white cultivars are also available. The spicy-scented blooms are good for cutting and naturalizing in lawns, borders, and woodland gardens.

Related Posts

The Enchanting Beauty of the Morning Glory Flower

    Title: The Enchanting Beauty of the Morning Glory Flower In the realm of floral enchantment, few blossoms captivate the senses quite like the Morning Glory….

Blooming Beauty: Enhance Your Garden with the Timeless Elegance of Iceberg Roses

Iceberg Roses, scientifically known as “Rosa ‘Iceberg,’” are a classic and elegant rose variety that adds a touch of timeless beauty to any garden. With their striking…

Blossoming Beauty: The Floral Wonders of Cyprus🌸✨

What would ouг woгld be without floweгs? When we weгe stгictly locked down in Cypгus, I began to notice the splendouг of my neighbouгs’ gaгdens on my daily walks. One day, I came acгoss blooms on a tгee which I had neveг seen befoгe and I would like to …

Blossoms of the Arid Expanse: Exploring the Indigenous Flora of the Atacama Desert

Uncategorized February 28, 2024 The Atacama Deseгt, known as one of the dгiest places on Eaгth, hosts a гemaгkable aггay of endemic floweгs that have adapted to its haгsh, aгid conditions. This unique ecosystem boasts a vaгiety of native floгal species …

How to Decorate With Pumpkins

From a DIY pumpkin centerpiece to pumpkin candles, see how to decorate with pumpkins for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Plus, learn a little more about all the creative types of pumpkins, a true American native. Pumpkins have deep American roots. The Pilgrims …

Labor Day Gardening: What to Do in the Garden This Weekend

Although some folks say Labor Day is the “end of summer,” that’s certainly not true for most gardeners. We’re harvesting, storing the bounty, saving seeds, dividing plants, and—yes—planting for a “second summer.” Come join us in the garden—and learn what …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *