Plant these flowering bulbs in fall for beautiful blooms from late winter right through spring until late summer. It’s an easy way to add bursts of color around your garden.
For more, also see 25 Flower Seeds to Sow in Fall and 20 Quick-Growing Veggies for Fall and Early Spring.
Fall-Planted Bulbs For Colorful Blooms
Many of us love a garden that offers continuous blooms from late winter, right through spring and summer, and into fall. Along with flowering perennials, cold-hardy bulbs are an easy way to achieve this. Planted in fall, there is no further care required.
Why do we plant them in fall? Because they need weeks of cold temperatures—some as many as four or five months—to trigger blooms in the warmer seasons.
I’ve listed the recommended bulbs (below) by the season they flower in. This way you can plan your selections to ensure those blooms keep coming right through the garden season.
Before you shop, be sure to check that your growing conditions (soil, water, light) and plant hardiness zone (how cold it gets each winter) are suited to each type of bulb.
Also check that none of the selections are invasive or too aggressive in your area. When it comes to plants, there can be too much of a good thing if they crowd out other plants vital to local pollinators.
In cold climates, it’s the flowering bulbs like snowdrops and crocuses that start the show in late winter.
Crocosmia and lilies can be show-stoppers in summer.
I have linked to examples of these bulbs on affiliate sites. I always recommend finding reliable local sellers you like and trust and give them your business if possible.
For more suggestions also see 20 Fall-Planted Bulbs That Support Pollinators.
Find Your Frost Dates & Hardiness Zone
- Plant Hardiness Zones | United States | Canada
These are listed on seed packets and plant tags to guide your choices.
- Average Frost Dates | Use this calculator at Almanac.com. Enter your city and state or province to find your first and last frost dates and number of frost-free days.
20 Flowering Bulbs to Plant in Fall
There are 5 basic types of bulbs so you may see any of these terms used on the packaging:
• True bulbs (which we just call ‘bulbs’)
• Tuberous roots
I’ve listed the lowest hardiness zone each bulb tolerates but there are always exceptions so check your labels before you buy.
Late Winter & Early Spring Flowering Bulbs
- Glory of the Snow Chionodoxa (zone 3, bulb)
- Snowdrop Galanthus (zone 3, bulb)
- Winter Aconite Eranthis* (zone 4, tuber) *Invasive in natural areas – check for your region.
Spring Flowering Bulbs
- Allium (zone 5, bulb). Bees love them. Deer and rabbits hate them.
- Anemone (zone 4, tuber)
- Corn Lily (zone 6, corm)
- Crocus (zone 7, corm) Get Giant Dutch crocus if you want bigger flowers.
- Crown Imperial Fritillaria (zone 3, bulb). Many animals don’t like the scent of the bulbs and stay away.
- Cyclamen (zone 5, tuber)
- Daffodil Narcissus (zone 4, bulb) . Many daffodils are undesirable to squirrels, deer, and rabbits.
- Hyacinth (zone 3, bulb)
- Peacock Flower Caesalpinia pulcherrima (zone 8, corm)
- Siberian Squill Scilla siberica (zone 3, bulb) – Check if invasive in your area.
- Snowflake Leucojum (zone 4, bulb)
- Star of Bethlehem Ornithogalum (zone 4, bulb)
- Trillium (zone 4, rhizome)
- Tulip (zone 3, bulb)
Summer Flowering Bulbs
- Crocosmia (zone 7, corm)
- Dutch Iris (zone 5, bulb)
- Grape Hyacinth Muscari (zone 4, bulb)
- Iris (zone 4, bulb)
- Lily (zone 4, bulb)
Fall Bulb Planting Tips
Once you have your bulbs, the optimum time to plant them in fall is when soil temperatures are steady around 60°F/16°C or a bit cooler and before consistent frosts have set in.
The 7 Beginner Tips for Planting Fall Bulbs walk you through everything you need to know.
You can plant bulbs in the ground or in containers which you would protect from freezing temperatures in winter.
And, because bulbs are food for critters, you will also want to find humane ways to protect yours from wildlife.
Now go plant some spring blooms!
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛