Question: I would like to add some spring-blooming bulbs to my lawn this fall. What kinds will naturalize well?
The best spring-flowering bulbs for lawns are those with grasslike foliage, since they will blend in with the grass once the flowers have faded. This foliage must be left intact until it yellows in order for the bulbs to regain enough energy to bloom the following year.
Crocuses are fine candidates. Dutch crocus (C. vernus) comes in colors from white to purple. A good yellow is C. ancyrensis 'Golden Bunch', while C. tommasinianus and C. minimus provide a lilac blue.
Becky Heath, of Brent and Becky's Bulbs in Gloucester, Va. (brentandbeckysbulbs.com), suggests a number of other possibilities, including dwarf irises, notably the blue and gold Iris reticulate 'Joyce', blue 'Harmony', yellow Iris danfordiae and the plum-colored hybrid 'George'. Glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa spp.) and grape hyacinths (Muscari spp.)—especially 'Christmas Pearl', which is one of the earliest-blooming cultivars—are further possibilities. Finally, consider planting spring starflower (Ipheion uniflorum), Siberian squill (Scillasiberica) and snowdrops (Galanthus spp.).
Any lawn to be planted with bulbs should receive full sun. For the best effect, bulbs should be planted in natural-appearing drifts. Use a narrow-bladed trowel to tuck the bulbs into the lawn. Fifteen of these small bulbs per square foot is not excessive. Allow at least eight weeks after bloom before mowing the lawn. If the lawn simply must be mowed sooner, adjust the mower to its highest setting, to avoid removing too much of the bulb foliage. You must also be careful not to apply any herbicide to the lawn that might injure the bulbs.
This post is excerpted from the September/October 2002 issue of Horticulture.
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Learn how to properly divide your bulbs and tubers with Smart Gardening Techniques: Gardening With Bulbs and Tubers download.
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