Fall Flowering Bulbs

What does one think when you say the word “bulbs”?

 For me, I think of bright Daffodils flowering in the spring.  I think that Daffodils, Tulips and spring are going to be the most common answer across the board.  One usually does not think of autumn when you talk bulbs except for that the time to plant most of your spring flowering bulbs.  Not all bulbs bloom in the spring time; there are autumn blooming bulbs that are not as common.  Below are some examples of autumn flowering bulbs that I have out in my garden and a few that I do not.

I can remember my first experience with fall blooming bulbs.  I was at a farmers market in early October about 5 years ago in Falls Church, Virginia everyone had pumpkins every color you can imagine and dried Indian corn for sale.  As I walked by a vendor I saw an apple crate full of bulbs and to my surprise some were even blooming, with flowers a beautiful light purple color.  My curiosity took over and I decided I would ask about them.  I found out that these giant flowers coming from such a small bulb were Colchicum or Autumn Crocus.  I ended up purchasing a couple of Colchicum var. Giant (Autumn Crocus) and some Sternbergia lutea (Autumn Daffodil).


I found that the Colchicums put on a great show in the fall and think every garden should have some! Colchicums have foliage in mid to late spring that gets to be no more than 12” tall and 2” wide.  When it starts to get really hot out they sort of disappear like foliage on Daffodils.  What come up in mid September are just the flowers with no foliage.  I have had great success with Colchicums, they seem to multiply nicely and not so much so that they are a nuisance.  I have them planted alongside some Hidcote Superior Lavander and Justin Brouwers Boxwood.

Autumn Daffodil

As for the Autumn Daffodil I have not had so much luck because they really have not multiplied as much as the Colchicums.  But, they are still nice because they are a gorgeous bright yellow.  The foliage is very similar to that of the spring flowering Crocus with thin, long leaves.  Last year I noticed the foliage stayed out all winter and disappeared in the spring.  They started coming up about 3 weeks ago and are blooming now.  But unlike the Colchicum, the blooms and the foliage comes up at the same time.

Cyclamen & Crocus

Another autumn flowering bulb is the Hardy Cyclamen and Autumn flowering Crocus; I have yet to actually try these out.  From what I hear the Hardy Cyclamen can be a little picky and hard to get started, but what is a life without challenges.  I found this website about them that seems to have a lot of information about them.  There are serveral different varieties out there and they look like they would be well worth the try.  Crocus are very common, what probably comes to mind are the little flowers that you see blooming first thing in the spring time.  There are some Crocus’s that are fall blooming and range widely in colors just like the spring flowering ones.  If you are interested in reading more about fall flowering bulbs Dave’s Garden has a great article on their website.


Gardening is always fun and I find that one can never know everything about gardening and flowers but one can always try!


Happy gardening!