I finally did it last fall. I finally bundled up and headed outside in the cold and planted hundreds of tulips, daffodils, alliums and hyacinths in the ground before it hardened and froze before the Michigan winter hit. While I experienced some disappointments with the amount of success, the row has produced a few handfuls of fresh flower arrangements, and there is more coming!
I made sure when I ordered my bulbs that I picked a mix of early blooming varieties and late season blooming varieties so the flowers would not all pop out at once. I thought all was lost in early spring when I didn’t see anything popping out of the ground. In late March I breathed a sigh of relief when I noticed some bulbs elbowing their way to the top of the soil hopefully giving me another spring rush of flowers before the peonies and iris’s start to show off.
I bought a mix of bulbs from a few different suppliers but I have to say that the two places with the best success thus far have been Brecks and Dutch Grown. I ordered some of the same bulbs from two different suppliers and have had equal success with both of them. My least successful bunch were a couple bags of bulbs I bought on clearance at the grocery store. I guess I shouldn’t be shocked by that but there is a very clear and noticeable difference in the quality and success rate of the bulbs bought from an actual bulb company vs. the grocery store.
So far my favorite blooms have been the Cotton Candy Hyacinths and the Apricot Whirl Daffodils. The Apricot Whirl Daffodils have the large double peachy petals that are absolutely stunning and have lasted remarkably strong in terms of vase life. Typically when I pick wild daffodils I barely get 24 hours. The daffodil varieties linked below have given me at least 4 full days of beautiful full blooms with the Apricot Whirl Daffodils lasting the longest. I have some on my counter that are lasting at least a week.
Listed below are all of the sites I’ve shopped for bulbs throughout the years. Most of the companies I purchase either peonies or dahlias from and have had great success. Aside from the random bulbs from the grocery store I ordered all of my bulbs this spring (pictured in the photos of arrangements) are from Brecks and Dutch Grown Bulbs.
Where to buy fall bulbs:
Sources to order fall bulbs for spring flowers:
What I planted in Fall of 2020 for Spring of 2021
- Daffodil Pink Champagne
- Daffodil Accent
- Daffodil Apricot Whirl
- Daffodil Mount Hood
- Daffodil Pheasant’s Eye
- Hyacinth Cotton Candy
- Hyacinth Gipsy Queen
- Hyacinth Empire State Mix
- Tulip Amazing Grace
- Tulip Paris Collection
- Tulip Venice Collection
- Tulip Menton
- Tulip Double Sugar
- Tulip Columbus
- Tulip Angelique
- Tulip Mango Charm
- Tulip Renown Unique
- Tulip Double Peony Angelique
- Tulip Double Peony Aveyron
- Tulip Weber’s Parrot
- Allium Gladiator
Why are you ordering bulbs for fall now?
In order to get the exact varieties you want for your garden it’s best to pre order your bulbs months in advance. If you are not picky about the varieties you can score some major deals by waiting. I placed a few different orders in 2020 the first being for specific varieties that I absolutely wanted then I placed another order mid summer when a lot of the bulbs went 75% off. The bulb orders ship according to your zone and when it is time to plant.
When do I plant my tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and alliums?
I am in between zones 5b/6a and the time to plant these bulbs is before the ground freezes but cold enough so the bulbs do not rot in the ground. These flowers need a good hard cold period for the flowers to bloom (typically between 5-7 weeks). I planted my bulbs the first week of November. I planted them in a long stretch and honestly I could have planted them closer together but I left a small walkway in between the rows of bulbs so I wouldn’t step on anything as I cut.
Mistakes I made while planting my tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and alliums
I don’t know if this would count as a mistake but critters definitely helped themselves to my tulip bulbs. My friend Emily informed me that mice loves tulip bulbs and our field is packed full of them. Moles will dig the tunnels and mice will burrow themselves through the tunnels and snack on your bulbs. What I am going to try next year is plant hyacinth bulbs around my tulips because hyacinths are poisonous and left alone by varmints. I am also going to try and plant some tulips in bots and baskets with better quality soil. The ground I planted in was extremely tough and I think that is the reason some of my hyacinths and tulips have such short stocky stems.
Harvesting the Flowers
The number one important thing to remember when harvesting your flowers is leave as much of the greenery behind as possible because that green foliage will help feed and bulk up the bulb to re bloom next year. Do not cut the foliage back until late fall. When I cut the flowers I use a sharp scissors and cut as far down as I can before hitting the second set of leafs. These flowers drink water like a toddler on a hot day in July so I regularly change out the vase water and make sure the vase is plenty full so my flowers stay fresh and bright. I also make sure to pick them at night or in the early morning.
After a long winter this past year I was so grateful to be able to walk out into the garden and gather up some fresh blooms for the house. My favorite thing is to place a few hyacinths in a vase on my nightstand and let the fragrance fill the room. Truly Hyacinths are some of the best smelling flowers of spring.
It does require a bit of garden work which might seem daunting after a long summer garden season but the reward in early spring is worth it.