Five Bulbs to Order in Spring and Plant in Fall


It may seem strange at first, but the best time to order the bulbs we plant in fall–bulbs like daffodils and tulips–is in spring.

Why would that be?

Two reasons:

  • It is easiest to see which spring flowers you want and where you want them while they are blooming. Spotted an especially beautiful parrot tulip on Instagram? Noticed a bare spot in your yard where daffodils would be ideal? You probably won’t remember that parrot tulip variety or that bare spot when it’s time to plant in fall but order them now and make a note of where you plan to put them, and you’ll have just want you want next spring.
  • Bulbs ordered from mail-order nurseries in spring will be shipped to you at just the right time for planting in fall. It can be difficult to remember spring flowers when the leaves are falling and the garden needs cleaning. There is no better reminder to plant spring bulbs than a box of them showing up on your front porch.

Here are some bulbs to consider ordering this spring:

  • Daffodils: These are deer and pest-resistant and grow up well even through grass. The trick is to leave the foliage alone until it yellows. Those green leaves feed the bulbs for next year’s display.
  • Tulips: I plant these close to the house to deter deer. I also like to plant them in a fenced-in raised bed. By the time I have cut all the tulips for the house, I can put tomatoes in the bed.
  • Scilla: These are tiny bulbs that flower in blue or white. I love planting a bunch underneath a spring-flowering tree to make a delicate blue or white carpet.
  • Crocus: I love planting the larger varieties in my flower beds, but I plant the small tommasinianus variety in splashes across the lawn.
  • Allium: One of my absolute favorites. Individual bulbs are more expensive than other spring flowers because of the size of the bulbs, but they make a huge impact in the garden with their enormous globes of purple, pink, or white. Even the dried seed-heads look great all summer.


  • Peony: Though it isn’t a bulb, peonies do best planted in the fall. Order in spring for fall delivery.

Favorite Lilies


I’d never grown lilies until I moved to Maplehurst in Pennsylvania, but I first began to love them at a farmer’s market in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.

There was a flower grower there who sold the strongly scented Stargazer lilies in summer. I was a graduate student on a tight budget, but I learned that for the price of one small bunch of lilies I could fill our apartment with perfume for a week.

Lily bulbs were almost the first thing I planted in the flower garden here. I have always planted mine in spring, but I hear that they do even better planted in fall. B&D Lilies is a great source for online ordering.

There are Asiatic lilies, Oriental lilies, various species lilies, and hybrid mixes. I have my favorites, but I also like planting a variety in order to have a long season of lily flowers. The Asiatic lilies bloom first and are usually without scent.

Eyeliner: I often find the Asiatic lilies are too brash and artificial looking for my taste, but ‘Eyeliner’ is a fun hybrid. It’s a pure white flower with a dark brown “eyeliner” edge on each petal.

Casa Blanca: A much-admired white, strongly scented Oriental lily.

Scheherazade: Tall, rich pink-red color, and dozens of blooms on a single stem. I love the petals that curl back so delicately.

Lilium species regale: Beautiful streaks of pink and white, lots of perfume, and it blooms between the Asiatics and the Orientals.

Favorite Peonies

Peonies are easy to grow and among the longest lasting perennials we can plant in our gardens. It is wonderful to anticipate their late spring flowers all year long.

Here are some of my favorite varieties:

  • Sarah Bernhardt: My sentimental favorite. Scented, double pink blooms. An especially romantic peony.
  • Bowl of Beauty: Ruffly pink perfection.
  • Kansas: Gorgeous deep, pinkish red.
  • Duchesse De Nemours: an elegant white peony. I have several of these in my flower garden.
  • Bartzella: This pale yellow peony is a special intersectional hybrid, which means it’s an especially garden-worthy plant. These hybrids are a cross between regular herbaceous peonies like those listed above and tree peonies. They die back just like ordinary peonies, but their stems are strong and never need staking.


Favorite Daffodils


Say the word daffodil, and we tend to picture flowers like the beautiful ‘Ice Follies’ seen in the picture above.

But daffodils (properly called narcissus) come in so many varieties. I love the unique “fancy” daffodils, and any daffodil with scent. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Bridal Crown: A delicate, ruffled, scented daffodil that grows well in containers.
  • Gay Tabor: Like a scented cream puff with hints of orange. Delicious.
  • Thalia: Pure white, delicate, very elegant.
  • Rijnveld’s Early Sensation: The earliest-blooming daffodil I grow. A reliable and cheerful splash of yellow in late winter.
  • Poet’s Daffodil (poeticus recurvus): The latest daffodil to flower. Gorgeous, wild shape and wonderful scent

Favorite Tulips


First, let me say this: my yard is un-fenced, and deer roam freely. Deer LOVE tulips.

What’s a gardener to do?

Plant daffodils. And that’s no joke! Daffodils come in so many beautiful colors and shapes, it really is no loss to plant masses of them in my flower garden, along the wooded edges of our property, in pots, and just about anywhere else I can think of.

But I still want tulips. So, I plant them in three ways. None are foolproof, but together these strategies ensure at least a few tulips every spring:

  • I plant tulips near our house, especially highly trafficked areas like doorways. I find that deer are less likely to eat these tulips.
  • I plant tulips in containers (see yesterday’s post in “How To”), then keep those pots in the house or on a table.
  • I planted tulips in my vegetable garden: my old vegetable garden was fenced. Each fall, I would plant two raised beds with tulip bulbs. In the spring, I would cut those flowers for the house. By the time the tulips were finished flowering, it was time to plant warm-weather loving tomatoes.

Here are some of my favorite tulip varieties:

Rem’s Favourite: (Pictured above) Purple and white streaks like an antique Dutch “Tulipmania” flower

Blushing Lady: Elegant tulip in pale pink and yellow. Great for cutting.

Dream Touch: Easily the most beautiful tulip I’ve grown. Ideal for cutting and bringing indoors to enjoy the silver-tipped layers. Almost looks like a peony.

Foxtrot and Foxy Foxtrot: Beautiful double tulips in pink and salmon.

Ollioules: One of the most perennial tulips I have grown. A beautiful, silvery pink for flowerbeds. This one does look best against a green backdrop, as the pale color can get a bit lost in the garden.

Queen of Night: Tall, rich purple, almost black. A stunning tulip in the garden or flower arrangement.

White Triumphator: My favorite for the flower garden and for planting around our house. Begins ivory and turns pure white. An elegant, tall, lily-shaped tulip.

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