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Fall Planting for Fall Blooms

Autumn Crocus

Three species that offer instant gratification

Planting bulbs in fall is usually about anticipation of spring blooms. But there are a few fall-planted bulbs that actually offer near instant gratification. The Big Three are Colchicum, Autumn Crocus and Cyclamen hederifolium (hardy cyclamen). All are fairly small in stature, planted in fall, and bloom right away.

Shop early for these eager beavers. They’ll be raring to grow, ready for immediate planting. Mail-order firms and garden centers often receive their supplies in August and run out by early September. Try to get the fall-bloomers into the ground by September to achieve bloom the first season. All three will naturalize where conditions are good for bulbs and in a wide range of climate zones.

Colchicum: When colchicum pop up in the fall, their slim bare stems and large cup or waterlily shaped flowers cause a double-take reaction. Their looks say Spring but their biological clock reads Fall. The flowers range in color from glistening white to rose, hot pink, orchid and lavender. Colchicum are so ready to bloom that, sometimes, they don’t even wait to be planted. For maximum effect, plant colchicum in waves across lawns or in sloped, massed beds. They are also ideal as small pockets of bloom tucked along paths or walkways. Colchicum thrive in rich, well-drained soil and partial shade and will naturalize readily in USDA zones 4/5 to 8. Colchicum flowers are, variously, 4 to 12 inches tall. Colchicum are poisonous, thus pest-resistant.

Autumn Crocus: These fall bloomers thrive in partial or full sun, naturalizing readily where conditions are right. Sure enough, they look exactly like spring-blooming crocus, but instead bloom in mid to late fall, depending on the variety. They bloom close to the ground on stems 3 to 5 inches tall. Their colorful egg-shaped flowers open wide in the sun. Choices abound for those in USDA zones 4-9. Animal pests may be a problem.

Cyclamen Hederifolium (aka C. Neapolitanum): This lovely late summer charmer comes in pink or white, sending up successive waves of blooms into early autumn. Best for USDA zones 5-8, this fall-blooming cyclamen is noted for its short stature, winged “butterfly flowers” and dark green ivy-like foliage with silver markings. Considered especially easy to grow, the hardy cyclamen does best in shade or partial shade. Young plants are vulnerable to animal pests.

Courtesy of bulbsonline.com

(TOP) Cyclamen Hederifolium (BELOW) Colchicum

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