Spring Colors: Planting in the Fall

As the radiance of summer fades and we slowly fall under autumn’s spell, our gardens invite us to make a few key choices that will ensure a fabulous spring garden. Before everything freezes in a silent layer of frost, the bulbs we plant will nestle into the soil, get established, and emerge after the winter with a loud splash of color and vibrance. 

Why is now the best time to plant spring things? 

When we are trying to maximize the bloom time here in Southeast Michigan, one of the most underutilized seasons is spring. This is often because local gardeners are unaware of the opportunity that fall planting brings. If you wait to plant in the spring, you’ll have to wait for the soil to thaw to start the process from scratch. That could be as late as May! Why wait to enjoy a bountiful and uplifting display of Mother Earth’s magic? 

If you plant bulbs before the last frost in your area, your spring garden will be so much more healthy, because the bulbs were able to survive challenging conditions all winter. Upon planting, the bulbs begin to send out their roots and settle into their environment. The next step is a cold stratification; that amazing process whereupon the freezing winter temperature holds the partially developed “bulbettes” in a dormant state, resting, until the soil is warm enough for it to burst through the surface and show us what it has been working on underground. Because of this, your flowers are acclimated to the weather, and will bloom longer. Some may even have two bloom windows. Your flowers will also come back year after year, gaining strength and radiance! 

Another huge motivator to plant in the fall is that when our pollinator friends come out of their cozy winter hibernation, they require early-blooming flowers to feast upon. Otherwise, they’ll wake up to a barren wasteland of boxwoods and yews, and in their already vulnerable state, they won’t stand a chance. They depend on us proactive and passionate gardeners (and random wildflowers they happen upon) to keep them fed, happy and pollinating. We need to pull our weight so that our local community of plants, creatures and humans coexist in harmony and abundance. Yes…our pollinators are that important.

Once winter thaws and spring’s light begins to arise from the darkness, hellebores and crocuses are the first blooms on the scene. They can start blooming as early as January, bringing the promise of spring to our frostbitten noses. You obviously can’t plant anything while the soil is frozen, so if you wish to experience winter blooms, plant ‘em now!

Tulips sure are pretty, but we have a happier relationship with daffodils – and we’ll tell you why: even though tulips are perennials, the length and performance of their blooming reduces year over year. They require a lot of maintenance and resources to thrive. We’re all about low-maintenance, so that is why daffodils are recommended instead, plus they are deer resistant.

Daffodils naturalize (reproduce) and spread beautifully. They are hearty perennials that will only become stronger and stronger every year that goes by. They don’t require a lot of care from us humans. Daffodils also have an impressive party trick; they will peek out their stems on a warmer day in early spring, and if they decide that it’s too cold, they’ll sink back down until it’s warm enough to really rock out. Cool! They typically bloom from about April to June.

Alliums blossom later in the spring season, providing a much-needed burst of flora when many other flowers aren’t blooming. One of the reasons we love them is that their stems stand graceful and tall, providing a whimsical background to the early summer growth of bushy, thicker hostas, day lilies and geraniums that are growing closer to the ground. Visual balance…our favorite!

A visual of the bloom cycle from our friends at the Flower Bulb Farm:

My Thyme Gardens provides an easy ordering process for spring bulbs. Check out our order form here. Our ordering deadline is typically late August. If you didn’t get on our list this time, no worries! We will gladly add you to our August 2023 ordering list, or we also offer garden coaching. We work with you to design your dream spring garden, and help you know what to purchase from your local garden store. We also encourage four season interest, planning ahead so that there are gorgeous blooms all throughout the growing season. 

Now that you have the insider scoop on how to collaborate with your garden to have a seriously healthy spring garden with blossoms as far as the eye can see, we hope you will sign up to be a supporter and defender of our pollinators, and plant bulbs before your soil freezes. Mother Earth thanks you for your service, and promises to bless you with her bounty.

1 comment

  1. Who knew that this was the prime time for spring bling? Thank you so much for these blog posts. My garden is benefiting!!!

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