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Spring Bulbs to Plant This Fall

Plant these classic bulbs in autumn for a glorious flower show next spring.

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How to Plant Tulips and Alliums

If you don't mind getting a little dirt on your hands when you plant bulbs this fall, you'll be rewarded with handfuls of flowers next spring. While your garden is cold and dreary, the bulbs will be forming roots and preparing to bloom when the weather warms up again. Popular varieties sell out fast, so buy or order your favorites ahead of time.

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How to Plant Ranunculus

You could almost mistake a heavily-petaled ranunculus for a rose. If you live in USDA Zones 8-10, plant the bulbs 2" deep in the fall. Since ranunculi can't survive cold winters, gardeners in other zones should wait until spring to tuck the bulbs into the garden or containers. Spring-planted ranunculi will flower in the summer. Plant the bulbs with the claw-shaped sides facing down.

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Photo: Colorblends

When to Plant Narcissus

"Narcissus" refers to a genus that includes daffodils, paperwhites, and jonquils—but most of us think of the big, trumpet-shaped yellow flowers as daffodils and the small, white ones as narcissus. (When they’re forced into bloom for the holidays, narcissus are called paperwhites.) 'Golden Harvest', shown here, is a vigorous, early-flowering bulb that dates back almost 100 years. Narcissi, which are typically hardy in Zones 3-8, should be planted in autumn.

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Photo: Longfield Gardens

When to Plant Dutch Irises

Fall-planted Dutch iris are easy to grow and make lovely cut flowers. Get the bulbs into the ground before the first hard freeze in your area, and give them a site with full sun to partial shade. They should be planted about 4-6” deep and 3” apart. Let the leaves remain on the plants until they die back naturally, and the bulbs, which are hardy in Zones 5-9, should flower again the following year.

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