Have you started planting fall bulbs yet?
If you’re in Powell River, you might be wondering how the summer went by so quickly! Even though we’ll miss those warm-weather annuals, there’s lots to be excited about this fall. In particular, now is the perfect time to start thinking about spring gardening. Fall is the best season to plant flower bulbs for beautiful spring blooms.
If you hustle and get your bulbs in the ground soon, some—like Saffron Crocus—may still bloom this fall!
Planting Fall Bulbs for Spring Blossoms
There are so many options for bulbs to plant. We thought we’d highlight some of our favourites that do best when planted in the fall.
Hyacinths are a popular spring flower with their tall spikes of pretty little blossoms. Planting Hyacinth bulbs in fall is quite simple. They like a sunny spot and should be planted before the first frost, about 10 cm deep and 7 cm apart.
We recommend using gloves when planting Hyacinth. Their bulbs contain oxalic acid, which can be a skin irritant.
Narcissus, also known as daffodils, are some of the most popular spring-blooming bulbs in Powell River. While most folks recognize the classic, sunny-yellow version with the trumpet-shaped blooms, narcissus are actually a genus of plants that include a wide range of varieties with different shades and shapes. You can find varieties with lush white and yellow double blooms, or elegant ivory varieties called “paperwhites”.
For fall planting, dig holes that are 3-4 times deeper than the length of the bulb. Space them out about a bulb’s length apart. Don’t forget to plant bulbs with the pointed end up! Narcissus look their best when mass planted, so go wild and try planting in groups of 10. Try mixing and matching the classic yellow daffodils with a few fancy narcissus varieties to add some extra dimension to your springtime display!
Tulips are springtime classics, and there are so many varieties available. Tulips come in every colour of the rainbow, with single or double blossoms in a variety of different shapes. Tulips are technically perennials, but centuries of hybridization means they’re not as strong as they could be. Because of this, many gardeners plant fresh bulbs every year.
Tulips should be planted somewhere sunny, though they don’t want to be too hot in the afternoon. The Powell River area is zone 7, so here we’ll want to plant them somewhere where they get some shade in the afternoon that has excellent drainage. Tulips don’t like soggy feet! They should be planted 6-8 weeks before the first hard frost; once soil temperatures are around 16° celsius.
Tulips need to be planted deep—at minimum 20 cm underground. They will appreciate a little fertilizer in the hole when planted, and then again in the spring when they start to come up.
Think of alliums as chive blossoms on steroids! Alliums are striking ornamental onions. Their globes of spiky blooms on tall narrow stems are other-worldly. Generally, they are shades of pink, blue, purple, or white. They range in height from 6 cm up to 2 meters tall! Drumstick Alliums are a classic deep purple, with 4 cm globes. They naturalize well, and the seed heads also add interest well into the winter with their beautiful round shape.
Planting Allium bulbs in fall is pretty simple. They prefer rich, well-drained soil, and most like the sun. They should be planted 6-10 cm deep. The larger the bulbs, the deeper they should be planted.
Alliums have the greatest impact when grouped. If you’ve got giant ones, aim for groupings of 3-5 bulbs, spaced well apart so their giant globe blossoms don’t tangle with each other. For smaller alliums, 10-12 is a good group, spaced far enough apart to accommodate their blossom heads.
With over 300 varieties available, there’s bound to be an iris for everyone. Irises are available in a range of colours and sizes, in bearded or crested types. The most popular varieties are relatively tall, with an average height of about 1 meter. Irises are also butterfly and hummingbird magnets.
Ideally, irises should be planted in early-to-mid September, when nighttime temperatures are around 10° celsius. They need lots of sunshine; if they don’t get enough, they won’t bloom. Irises should be planted 6-10 cm deep, and 25-40 cm apart.
The delicate butterfly-like wings of cyclamen bloom in shades of pink to white. A beautiful late bloomer, cyclamen are easy to grow and naturalize well. They like part shade and fertile soil. Tubers should be planted in late summer or early fall. A word of warning; cyclamen are poisonous for dogs and cats, so keep pets away.
All of your bulbs will appreciate a thorough watering after planting, but then you can mostly forget about them. They’ll pop up when they’re ready and brighten the garden. If you haven’t started planting your fall bulbs yet, come by the garden centre and see what we’ve got. Get planting today and get a head-start on spring!