Your Guide to Fall Bulbs

After a long winter, the unexpected joy of a blooming Snowdrop or spring Crocus in the garden is like candy for our eyes! Spring-blooming flowers like tulips, daffodils, hyacinth and snowdrops are the first, riotous colour in an Ontario garden. They bring the landscape back to life, and brighten our worlds in a celebration of vivid colours. Our full selection of spring-blooming bulbs has just arrived in TERRA stores. Here’s a preview of our favourite types, and how to plant them this Fall for an outstanding garden next year!

The Earliest Bloomers
The early blooms of Crocus are the herald of Spring weather!

The first colour to appear in our gardens after the winter is a most welcome sight! The earliest bloomers, such as the aptly-named Snowdrops, or bright blue Scilla, and cheerful Crocus begin pushing through the melting snow in April. In general, these earliest blooming plants tend to be quite small, so they’re ideal for planting near entrances and walkways, where they can be noticed and appreciated.

Hyacinths are a showy, fragrant addition to the Spring garden.

In late April, the Hyacinths begin to appear in the garden. These compact, colourful flowers are full of saturated colour in tones of blue, purple, pink, white or cream. Hyacinths are also incredibly fragrant, which makes them ideal for planting near entry areas or windows, allowing their sweet scent to be enjoyed when they bloom. Plant Hyacinths at the front of borders, where taller plants can fill in behind them. As a bonus, Hyacinths are also generally less appealing to deer or squirrels, making them an attractive option where these critters are more persistent.

Daffodils & Narcissi
Daffodils bring effortless cheer to the garden in May.

If low-maintenance beauty and cheer is what you’re after, Daffodils are the flowers for you! These tall, iconic flowers are so easy to grow. Plant them in the garden, in drifts beneath trees, in patches in the lawn… once planted, they naturalize and spread over time. While the large-cupped yellow Daffodil is what most of us picture when thinking of this flower, this family of blooms includes many sizes, styles, and colours. Small specialty Narcissus are ideal for containers or rock gardens. Try fancy split-corona varieties in shades of cream and pink. Daffodils are also resistant to squirrels, and they make excellent cut flower bouquets in May.

Tulips of all kinds
Tulips in a garden create a riot of colour, with varying heights and styles of bloom.

Is any spring-blooming flower more iconic than the tulip? These free-blooming beauties are the ultimate garden showstopper in the mid- to late-spring. In Ontario, we generally plant tulip bulbs in late September through October, as the temperatures begin to drop, but before the ground freezes. Tulip varieties offer colours, shapes, and bloom styles in a staggering selection. They also vary in their bloom times, so by selecting tulip types that bloom early, in mid-season, and in late-season, it’s possible to have tulips iblooming in your garden for the entire Spring season.

Single tulips(like Princess Irene, pictured) offer large, bright blooms that last longest. Plant them in groupings or drifts for maximum impact in the garden.
Tulip - Amazing Parrot
Parrot tulips, like ‘Amazing Parrot’ have dramatic, fringed edges and distinctive striping. They make incredible cut flowers!
Double-flowering tulips, like ‘Avante Garde’, have layers of petals that resemble peonies when fully open. Double tulips generally bloom latest in the season.
Purple Allium explode in bright bloom in the garden in June.

Allium, or Ornamental Onion, is having a moment in the garden world! These funky flowers have been gaining in popularity over the last handful of years. They’re relatives of onions and garlic, and offer deer- and squirrel-resistance with big, showy flowers in June. You’ll find Allium available in varying heights and sizes of flowers, in colours of blue, purple, and white. Plant them in small groupings, and they’ll naturally multiply in garden over time.

Tips for Planting Bulbs
You can plant bulbs any time until the ground is frozen, and waiting until later October can be helpful.
  • First of all, don’t rush to plant. While it’s important to buy early in order to get the varieties you want, bulbs can be planted at any time until the ground is frozen! In fact, there may be some benefit to planting a little later in the season – foraging squirrels are more likely to find your planted tulips in September and early October. Planting later in October (or even November) can help to deter critters.
  • Bulbs need to be planted at specific depth in order to overwinter and bloom properly. Always follow package directions, and err on the side of too deep rather than too shallow.
  • Skip the bulb planter and dig larger holes or trenches with a spade! Planting bulbs in loose groupings or drifts looks more natural than single bulbs planted in rows.
  • Mix up varieties! As mentioned above, different types of bulbs bloom through different parts of the Spring season. To have colour and interest in the garden from those first peeks of crocus until the Spring perennials start flowering, plant a range of flower types that bloom early, mid, and late in the season.
Don’t Forget the Garlic!
There’s nothing like the spicy punch of fresh, homegrown garlic, and it’s easy to grow at home!

While you’re happily digging in your tulips, hyacinths and alliums, don’t forget about planting garlic as well! Garlic is one of the easiest edible crops you can grow. Plant individual cloves of garlic in the Fall in a sunny location with good drainage. Next Spring, strappy foliage will appear, followed by curling stalks of edible garlic scapes. Harvest the scapes for spring salads or infusions, and then wait until the foliage has yellowed to harvest the garlic bulbs below in late July. Garlic bulbs can be dried and stored for months for flavourful, homegrown cooking.

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