With spring right around the corner, bulb displays in stores will start to arrive. Bulbs and corms are the dormant state of some perennials and are packed with energy, which is why we eat many of them like Onions and Garlic. They store energy all spring and into summer through their foliage then go dormant storing all that energy until warm weather returns. Today I will discuss a few of my favorite bulbs and some unique choices to pick next time you are looking for some great easy spring color.
The most common bulbs include Daffodils and Tulips, and even though they are great to use, they tend to be overused. I would recommend buying only a few unique colored tulips or daffodils, and instead buy more bulbs for earlier and later color to carry the blooms until Summer. One of the first to jump into action is Crocus. These small grass-like perennials begin the flower in early spring before many bulbs even begin to sprout. Crocus will bloom until the Tulips and Daffodils take over, but both of those only bloom for a few weeks. After they slow down, the next bulbs will kick in to keep the blooms going.
The next bulbs to carry the torch into the summer are Alliums. These great bulbs (Which are ornamental onions) produce great unique flowers and varieties are being created every year with bigger and better flowers. ‘Globemaster’ Allium is my favorite one with 10” diameter purple globes of flowers that tower over many other perennials. Another great choice for late spring-summer color is Gladiolus, these colorful perennials are in the Iris family but instead of a single flower they contain a large spike of flowers. The hardy varieties can be left in the ground over winter and will return every year meaning no maintenance and great color.
The summer “bulbs” to awaken and bloom are Dahlias and Cannas. Neither are true bulbs though, being tubers like potatoes. These tropical plants will take off in the spring warmth and grow in with great foliage and blooms all summer until fall frost. To save them for next year you will have to dig them out of the ground and store them in a cool location over winter (at around 40 degrees). They are normally as cheap as annuals and can be treated as annuals if you don’t mind buying them each year. The best gardens are ones with diversity and successive blooms and buying diverse bulbs will make sure your garden looks great for years to come.