Fall Garden Projects -- Naturalize your home landscape with Bulbs!

Bulbs for Naturalizing Allium Allium Allium Anemone blanda Crocus Crocus Fritillaria Fritillaria Dutch iris HyacinthHyacinth Hyacinth Leucojum aestivumLeucojum aestivum Muscari Muscari tulip species Narcissus NarcissusNarcissus NarcissusFritillaria meleagrisIris reticulata

If you choose bulbs for naturalizing, your spring show will not only look great next spring, but will multiply and improve each spring for years to come!

It’s fall, time to plant tulips, daffodils and other bulbs that bloom in spring. Planting a satisfying show of bulbs to bloom next spring is only an hour work on a fall weekend, and well worth the effort in itself. If you choose bulbs for naturalizing, your spring show will not only look great next spring, but will multiply and improve each spring for years to come.


Bulbs Suitable for Naturalizing:


Anemone blanda


Fritillaria imperialis

Fritillaria meleagris

• Galanthus

• Hyacinthoides

Hyacinthus (hyacinth)

Iris hollandica (Dutch iris)

Iris reticulata (dwarf iris)

Leucojum aestivum


Narcissus (daffodil)

Tulipa Specie

Tips and tricks for Success:

Feed the bulbs.

   • Bulbs that are planted as annuals, expected to bloom for only one season, don’t need fertilizer. They already contain all the food they need to flower once.

   • Bulbs for naturalizing are another story. They need food to recharge and regenerate for the next season’s bloom.


For the First Season:

   • Work a good organic compost or well-rotted cow manure into the soil when planting and also “top-dress” or mulch with this material.

   • Or, add compost or peat to the soil for drainage and top-dress with a 9-9-6 NPK slow release or an 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 NPK, fast-release soluble fertilizer (about one tablespoon per square foot).


What You Do Next Spring Depends On What You Did In The Fall:

   • If you used a slow release method, such as the cow manure or the slow-release NPK, don’t do anything.

   • If you used a fast-release fertilizer to support fall rooting, apply a nitrogen-rich fast-release NPK fertilizer in the spring just as the shoots first emerge from the soil, or about 6 weeks prior to bloom.


Fueling up for next year’s bloom:

   • For all bulbs, allow the green foliage to die back naturally after bloom for approximately six weeks. This time is when photosynthesis takes place, as the bulb plant creates and stores the sugars that will fuel the following year’s bloom.

   • Hold off on mowing or tidying up fading bulb foliage during this period. If dying foliage seems unattractive, interplant bulbs with Hostas, lilies or other perennials that leaf-out early in the spring season. As they grow and the bulb plant fades their foliage will disguise and dominate.


To dead-head or not?

   • Yes, do dead-head Tulips by snipping off the faded flowers to prevent seeds from forming, which saps energy from the Tulip bulb.

   • No, do not dead-head daffodils or bulbs that readily naturalize; they just don’t need it.


Sometimes naturalizing just doesn't work out.

   • Whether it's the setting working against you, or perhaps the type of bulb, sometimes bulbs don't come back to bloom the next season. The soil or sun may not be supportive, or heavy summer watering is a factor.


There's also a place for short-term treasures.

   • Even while planning your long-term naturalized bulb garden, consider including some of the stunning but more short-term non-naturalizers in high-profile garden spots. These can be your whimsical assets that change year after year.

   • When they’ve finished flowering, just compost or toss them, freeing up the space to try different nifty new treats next fall.


The main thing about flower bulbs is that they’re fun.

   • Few plants have such seasonal impact, or connect so closely with the cycles of nature. Naturalized plantings also add long-term value to your property. Now that’s home improvement!