By Charlie Nardozzi Fall is the time to plant spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips, hyacinths, and crocus. While these bulbs are beautiful and a joy to see in spring, other spring-flowering bulbs are easier to care for. If grown properly, naturalizing bulbs will spread throughout your yard, creating drifts of color in spring. Some will spread by sowing seeds that create new plants, while other will spread via offset bulbs on the side of the mother plant. The key to success with naturalizing bulbs is to plant them where you won’t mow until after the foliage starts yellowing. Suitable locations may be under trees, in perennial gardens, in meadows, or in fringe areas of your lawn. Bulbs will naturalize more quickly if they aren’t mowed down in spring right after flowering. Here are some of the best naturalizing bulbs to grow in your landscape:
- Species Tulips: While Darwin, Parrot, and other large-flowered tulips are beautiful, species tulips are less dramatic, with their low-growing plants and smaller flowers. Look for some of the more common species types, such as ‘Lilac Wonder’, ‘Peppermint Stick’, and ‘Tarda’.
- Daffodils: Daffodils are tough bulbs that can withstand animals, harsh weather, and poor growing conditions to flower consistently each year. For naturalizing, look for tried-and-true varieties such as ‘Mount Hood’ and ‘Carlton’. Some of the smaller-flowered versions such as ‘Tete a Tete’ and ‘Cheerfulness’ are good naturalizers but look best in smaller areas. The large-flowered types grow well in drifts under large deciduous trees such as maples.
- Scilla: Scilla, or Siberian squill, is a small, dainty flower that can spread throughout a lawn or high-grass area. Look for varieties such as the traditional blue ‘Spring Beauty’ and the white ‘Alba’.
- Grape Hyacinth: This is another low-growing small bulb, with beautiful blue, yellow, or white flower cones in spring. ‘Blue Spike’ is a good variety to try.
- Snowdrop: This small bulb is one of the first to bloom in spring, often blooming while snow is still on the ground. Most varieties have white or pale green flowers with a strong fragrance.