Thursday, August 11, 2022
Aug. 11, 2022

Linkedin Pinterest

Gardening with Allen: Fall flower bulbs easy to plant


I would like to plant some bulbs this fall for the first time. Which bulbs are best adapted to our area? Could you give me some suggestions on how to plant them?

Flower bulbs are easy to plant. They will grow even if you plant them upside down. Generally, bulbs are planted about three to four times the diameter of the bulb apart and depth. For example, a half-inch bulb would be covered with 2 inches of soil and would be spaced 2 inches from the next bulb. But bulbs are usually spaced closer and at a shallower depth in containers.

Most fall-planted bulbs will grow in our area. Daffodils give the best satisfaction. They are dependable, easy to grow and deer-resistant. Daffodils come in white and pink bicolor shades as well as the typical yellow shades. The dwarf 6-inch daffodils are good for close-up viewing and containers.

Tulips are the most popular fall bulb and are also quite dependable. The tall Darwin tulips are the most popular. Darwins come in a large range of colors and grow 24 to 30 inches tall. I prefer the Triumph tulips, which are a little shorter at 14 to 20 inches and less likely to blow over. I really like the shorter botanical tulips (10 to 12 inches) that are more like wild tulips. Unusual tulips include bicolor, fringed and double petals.

Crocus are the earliest and shortest of the fall bulbs at 3 to 6 inches. I always like to have at least a few of them in a prominent place. Crocus comes in white, yellow and shades of purple.

My favorite spring blooming bulb besides daffodil is the hyacinth. Hyacinth has a multifloret columnar flower with a sweet fragrance. They grow 8 to 12 inches tall and are suitable for cutting. Hyacinth colors include white and shades of pink and blue. Like daffodils, they are also deer-resistant.

Fritillaria or Crown Imperial bulbs have fussier growing requirements but are worth the effort. They make quite a statement with their hanging bell-shape flowers on 30- to 40-inch plants. They are very deer-resistant.

Allium or ornamental onion is another tall, striking specimen bulb with large ball-shaped blooms in lavender shades. It is also deer-resistant.

Summer-blooming lilies can be planted now also. There are a few other bulbs that you may find interesting, such as muscari, scilla, grape hyacinth and windflower.

Bulbs are available in stores now with the best selection in full-service nurseries. is a reliable online source that is currently offering discount prices.

Most of my bulbs are planted the same place I plant my annual flowers. I use a 2-inch-wide hand trowel to dig holes between flowers for the bulbs. I also plant bulbs (especially daffodils) amid ground cover. Sometimes I have to remove a bit of ground cover to make holes for bulbs. Bulbs grow well in containers, including ones that are also used for annual flowers. Bulbs prefer well-drained soil, so if you have a clay soil be sure to mix in organic matter, such as bark dust, before planting.

Support local journalism

Your tax-deductible donation to The Columbian’s Community Funded Journalism program will contribute to better local reporting on key issues, including homelessness, housing, transportation and the environment. Reporters will focus on narrative, investigative and data-driven storytelling.

Local journalism needs your help. It’s an essential part of a healthy community and a healthy democracy.

Community Funded Journalism logo