Plants - Flower Bulbs

Plant minor bulbs in early fall

Planted in early fall, these ephemeral bulbs put on a dazzling show before vanishing for another year

Often overlooked in favour of the popular major bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, the smaller minor bulbs merit more attention for their hardiness and masses of diminutive blooms. Many readily increase their numbers each year, making them excellent for naturalizing in lawns, borders or on woodland slopes.  

Super-hardy ones, such as snowdrops, deserve special recognition for emerging and blooming even through melting snow and ice. And minor bulbs such as species crocus, windflowers and bulbous iris shine in spring or early summer until other plants are ready to carry on the cavalcade of colour.

Because most minor bulbs prefer well-drained soil, they’re great for rock gardens, and their small stature means they combine well with low-growing alpines such as sandwort (Arenaria spp.), saxifrage, campion (Silene spp.) and speedwell (Veronica spp.).

Care checklist

  • Plant in the fall as early as bulbs are available in slightly moist, well-drained soil, full to part shade; water well.
  • Using a narrow trowel or dibble, dig a hole to a depth of at least three times the bulb’s diameter. (In cases where it’s difficult to tell which side is up, plant bulb sideways.) 
  • Apply bonemeal to soil just after flowering. 
  • Allow foliage to yellow before cutting back, including that of bulbs growing in lawns, which should not be mown until leaves have died back naturally.
  • Divide only if plants are overcrowded.


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