Generally low maintenance, the only thing a bulb needs is to be placed in the ground at the right time, be appropriately hydrated, and left alone to emerge as one of nature’s eternal signals that life, does indeed, go on.
October is a good time to research the endless selection of bulb options, source the right bulbs for Dallas-area hardiness zones, and check your choices with an experienced professional or master gardener.
Many bulbs are available locally at garden centers; most can be sourced online through specialty nurseries if ordered now. Most mail-order nurseries will cease shipping by end of October or will have sold out of their inventory.
Some of our favorites:
Daffodils can be planted as soon as it begins to cool around November and are great bulbs for Dallas gardens. They bloom in late winter to early spring no matter what month they are planted. They do best in a well-drained, sunny place with slope areas and raised beds the best. Improve clay soils with good quality organic matter and keep them moist until the rains come.
Paperwhites are among the easiest bulbs to grow. Technically a member of the narcissus family, paperwhites can be staged to bloom several times by planting in six-week increments throughout the fall in well-drained soil and sun. They do exceptionally well in containers and urns and will flower more than one season if planted in good quality potting medium and nourished with a water-soluble organic fertilizer.
Tulip color schemes intensify when planted in mass beds. We recommend experimenting with tone and structure, relying on random layouts and mixed color arrangements. When selecting tulip bulbs, look for proven performers and varieties with longevity, and partner tulips with annual plantings to create a distinctive pairing.
Ornamental alliums, a cousin to onions, shallots and garlic, are easy to grow and come in a broad palette of colors, heights, bloom times, and shape. Their distinctive “popsicle-on-a-stick” allows them to fit well in dense planted areas because they don’t take up much space. Even better, they’re relatively resistant to deer and rabbits and grow in almost any soil.
Anemones are sun lovers and bloom from April to May. They do well planted in bunches, in crevices, and near protective canopies of perennials to shade them from summer sun, and keep their roots cool. Anemones and ranunculus are best planted in December and January. If they are put in too early, they won’t bloom.
Irises’ showy perennial flowers come in a rainbow of colors, appropriate to their being named after the Greek goddess who rode rainbows. There are over 300 species; the most familiar and most popular are the tall, bearded irises. Most flower in early summer and some species flower again later in the summer.
Crocuses are reliable bloomers, which excel in well-draining soil mixed with fine sand. From the winter blooming snow crocus to the giant Dutch crocus, these flowers not only bring color to a dormant winter landscape, but tend to spread and come back year after year with minimum care.
Spanish bluebells are pretty, inexpensive, good for cutting and generally the most easygoing flower in your garden. They are unfussy about light and soil and seem to thrive with little care. They spread by producing offsets, which fill in and create large patches of color over time.
Mary Beth Riddle, Lambert’s.