Autumn is certainly the time of year for planting spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils, tulips, and crocus, but it’s also the time to plant fall-flowering bulbs. Fall-flowering bulbs are planted in early autumn and will bloom later in fall and for years afterward. The beauty of these bulbs is that they require little maintenance, bloom reliably each fall, and provide flower color at a time of year when most blossoms are fading. Like spring-flowering bulbs, they look great tucked in perennial flower and shrub borders for a splash of color or planted right up front along a walkway or in a rock garden.
Plant these bulbs in early fall as you would spring-flowering bulbs. Find a site with well-drained soil in full sun for the colchicum and autumn crocus. The cyclamen prefers a part-shade location. Plant the colchicum 4 to 6 inches deep, and plant the crocus and cyclamen only a few inches deep. Add a small handful of bulb fertilizer in fall and again in early spring to enhance growth and flowering. Once the plants bloom in fall, let the foliage naturally yellow and die back since that’s how the bulbs rejuvenate themselves. Here is more on the three most popular fall-flowering bulbs:
Autumn Crocus: There are many species of autumn-flowering crocus. The most famous is the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus). The stigmas of this species are collected as saffron spice for use in foods. The flowers are lilac colored. Autumn-flowering crocus bloom in early to late fall and have white or blue flower petals depending on the species.
Colchicum: This large bulb is sometimes called an autumn crocus, but is actually more closely related to the lily family than to the crocus. It produces big blooms in pink, violet, or white in mid-fall. The showy flowers emerge before the foliage. ‘Lilac Wonder’ is probably the most popular variety.
Cyclamen: This small bulb blooms in early fall with pink or white flowers on colorful, marbled foliage. The leaves stay green all winter in mild-winter areas. The flowers are similar to those of the florist’s cyclamen plants often given as holiday gifts