It’s that time of year in my neck of the woods. Things are starting to happen. Perhaps the most welcome sight, besides our near record February snow finally disappearing, is the early spring bulbs that have begun flowering.
First of the Spring Bulbs
The first to arrive were the snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis), with their small white flowers peeking out of the ground. Their tiny, drooping flowers give the appearance of daintiness, but snowdrops are hardy plants, often blooming despite the snow remaining on the ground.
Two Better Bulb Choices for Color
While the snowdrops are a welcome sight, my favorite show has begun. That of the Squill (Scilla) and the Glory of Snow (Chionodoxa). What makes these plants my favorite early spring site is their ability to spread into drifts of color in lawns. If you give them enough years to spread, your entire lawn can be covered in tens of thousands of blue flowers creating a virtual carpet of color.
The common blue color of the Squill is the most commonly seen growing freely in lawns.
Glory of snow comes in a few more colors and to me is more easily seen.
The great things about these bulbs are the fact they:
- Flower early
- Provide early spring pollen for bees and other pollinators
- Are deer and rodent resistant (i.e. poisonous)
- Go dormant and disappear before the grass needs to be cut
- Gradually spread a bit more every year
These do spread and are not effected by broadleaf weed control so make sure you really want them in your lawn before your plant them.
They can crowd out other native blooming plants in natural areas.
If you are next to a natural area or are trying to restore your yard to a natural state you should skip these plants. As well as large areas of grass I might add.
If you have a woodland and you think these would look great covering it, don’t. I would instead suggest native early bloomers such as Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica), Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia), etc. that will both look better in that setting as well as help your local wildlife. Virginia bluebells spread just as quickly and when forming a large patch look great.
Squill and Glory of Snow are good pollinator plant for bees and other pollinating insects at a time not a lot else in blooming so if you are in a typical residential setting and want to add these to your turf, you can do so guilt free.
How do you get them in your yard?
In the fall, buy lots of whatever bulb suits your fancy. I would buy just one type.
I would buy them by mail order as you want to buy LOTS of them. I mean not just one pack of 20, more like 20 packs of twenty.
- Lift up sections of grass spread throughout your yard
- Plant a bunch of bulbs under each section of grass
- Replace the turf
- Water them enough to keep your grass alive (it’s fall so a couple times may be enough)
- My favorite step – Forget about them till spring when you have to enjoy them
Every year, the flower show will spread further and further throughout your yard and fill in the gaps between where you planted them.