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Fall is time to plant spring-flowering bulbs


Robert E. Thomas
Information Specialist
University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group
Phone: 573-882-2480

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010

Story source:

David H. Trinklein, 573-882-9631

COLUMBIA, Mo. –Fall is the time to plant spring-flowering bulbs, says a University of Missouri Extension horticulturist.

“Spring-flowering bulbs are among the easiest plants to grow and some of the most rewarding,” said David Trinklein.

Planting spring-flowering bulbs in the fall is crucial to allow them to develop a good root system and give the bulbs an adequate period of cool temperatures to induce flowering.

Most bulbs bloom in early spring and provide a succession of color before the summer-flowering shrubs and perennials reach their peak bloom, he said.

Bulbs that do well in Missouri include daffodils, grape hyacinths, reticulated iris and snowdrops.  

Tulips provide a tremendous range of colors and flower types, but they struggle with heavy, wet soils and are very susceptible to bulb rot and slug damage. Plant tulips at a depth of 7-8 inches. Good drainage greatly improves their durability. Let foliage grow as long as possible after flowering to improve chances of repeat performance. 

Daffodil bulbs, unlike tulips, are not attractive as food for small animals though winter. As with tulips, daffodils prefer good drainage and are best planted before the end of October.

Many smaller, early flowering bulbs for fall planting are sometimes referred to as the minor bulbs. One of these is Leucojum or summer snowflake. Another very early flowering bulb is the reticulated iris, which grows about 4 inches tall and produces beautiful flowers in lavender and purple. One of the easiest small bulbs to grow is the grape hyacinth. Flowers range in color from dark blue to white.