Best Flower Bulbs to Plant in Fall in Texas

by Anthonyfamilyinfo@gmail.com

Spring flowering bulbs are garden classics and some of the best bulbs to plant in the fall. In warm climates, there are certain of these bulbs that are the most dependable to bloom. They are the type of bulbs that can be planted once, they will perennialize and for years to come will dependably bloom.

The best bulbs to plant in fall in central Texas for spring flowers are the early blooming narcissus bulbs. In this group of bulbs, there are 3 categories – early, mid and late flowering. The early blooming bulbs require the fewest number of chilling hours. That is the minimum amount of time bulbs must stay below temperatures of 40F to bloom. Central Texas winters can be mild, but the chilling hours for this group of bulbs is typically satisfied.

What bulbs do well in Texas?

White Thalia

Of all the spring flowering bulbs, some of the best for Texas are the Narcissus types. They are well suited for mild climates where soils do not freeze.

Narcissus is the genus for all daffodils, narcissus and paperwhites. In general flowers with a large trumpet or cup are called daffodils. Small cupped flowers with multiple blooms on one stalk are typically called narcissus. Paperwhites are narcissus with multiple blooms on one stalk and small white cups. This distinction is interesting but, not essential to understand to grow them.

Narcissus are further categorized as early, mid and late bloomers. The bloom time ranges from winter through spring. The best category for warm climates is the early blooming types. They require a low number of chilling hours to bloom. Chilling hours is simply the minimum amount of time bulbs must stay below 40 degrees Farenheit. Central Texas winters can be mild but can usually meet the chilling hours required by the early blooming narcissus.

If these bloom time categories sound complicated, no worries. Just select a narcissus that you like from the “early bloomers” group. Then, there are a few of the mid and late bloomers that are good ones. If you want to try one of those, go ahead. I sure have. Not all have been successful, but some have worked out. Bulb specialty sources often specify the USDA zone for each cultivar and if it is suitable for warmer climates.

Yellow Sweetness

There are hundreds of narcissus varieties, which ones are the best bulbs for central Texas?

Of the early blooming group, my favorites are the narcissus that reliably perennialize in Texas. That simply means plant them once, they bloom every year and actually multiply. What difference does it make? It means these bulbs need minimal care, don’t need to be dug up and stored nor do they require precise pre-chilling to bloom from year to year.

Here are 8 bulbs to plant in the fall and you will enjoy their flowers from winter to spring.

Grand Primo

Two of the Narcissus tazetta are particularly exceptional bulbs for Texas. ‘Grand Primo’ and ‘Italicus’ bloom from winter to spring and brighten a garden when little else may be in flower.

With clusters of white flowers, ‘Grand Primo’ is probably the most commonly grow Narcissus throughout the south. It has a small, pale-yellow cup, is fragrant and blooms for weeks. The large bulb can send up 2 to 3 bloom stalks. The ‘Grand Primo’ bulbs in my garden were passed along to me by a 100-year-old gardener. They are treasured garden heirlooms.

Italicus

Narcissus tazetta ‘Italicus’ has bloomed reliably for decades in my gardens. Clusters of creamy white flowers with small yellow cups, look like little stars. This scented selection blooms early and is a reliable perennial bulb.

‘Erlicheer’ is an elegant double flowered Narcissus tazetta that looks like a small bouquet on a stem. Wonderfully fragrant, it is ideal for bouquets and is a good perennial bulb that multiplies.

‘Yellow Cheerfulness’ is a late blooming Narcissus that performs well in warm climates like Texas. This heirloom cultivar has a musky fragrance and makes a good cut flower. Additionally, there is a white version – ‘Cheerfulness.’

Erlicheer

When one thinks of daffodils, the large trumpet, yellow flower version comes to mind. There are some narcissus varieties of this type that do pretty well in Texas.

Narcissus jonquila ‘Sweetness’ (common name daffodil) ‘Sweetness’ is one of the most reliable yellow daffodils for the south. In my zone 8b, central Texas garden, it blooms in March. This golden yellow flower has a deliciously sweet fragrance. It often has multiple flowers per stalk and will perennialize.

‘Carlton’ is perhaps the most classic, large cup daffodil and one of the best for Texas. This large trumpet, bright yellow cultivar blooms often in March. It has 1 flower per stem, makes an excellent cut flower and should naturalize in the garden.

Carlton

‘Thalia’ a late blooming daffodil is one of my personal favorites. This Narcissus triandrus variety often has double blooms per stem, is fragrant and makes a nice cut flower.

When to plant spring-blooming flower bulbs?

Fall is best for planting spring-blooming flower bulbs with November and December ideal in warm climates. If ordering bulbs, do that early in the season – July or August if possible, with delivery scheduled for October. Garden centers and some big box stores offer bulbs in the fall. Shop early for best selection.

Once established, these selections of bulbs may also be transplanted immediately after blooming. It is one way to ensure identification of the bulb.

Where to plant bulbs?

Early blooming bulbs can be planted near deciduous trees. Another good location to plant bulbs is where perennials grow so that the bulbs provide color when perennials may be dormant. Soil type and site conditions affect bulb performance. All these bulbs need full winter sun, well-drained soil with no standing water. Amending soil with compost to add organic matter and expanded shale to aid drainage may be helpful for dense soil.

How to Plant bulbs?

Trenching in large drifts is a simple bulb planting method. Dig a wide space with a shovel, large enough to hold all the bulbs spaced at appropriate intervals. Press in the bulbs pointed end up at 2 to 3 inch spacing. Replace the soil so that the bulbs are at proper depth and water gently. Also, a hand tool or auger type planter can be used for planting bulbs individually. This method is particularly good to achieve a natural meadow appearance. This bulb planter is my go-to tool to use.

How deep to plant bulbs? Plant with the pointed end up and at a depth 2 to 3 times the size of the bulb. So, if the bulb is 1 inch long, plant it 2 to 3 inches deep but bulbs may be planted an inch or so deeper. Just avoid planting bulbs too shallow.

 

How to care for bulbs? What to do after flowering?

Bulbs appreciate a balanced fertilizer, but not excessive nitrogen. Use a fertilizer blend for bulb growth with slightly higher phosphorous and potassium. After blooming, fertilize and allow the foliage to mature and turn yellow before cutting back.

Bulb sources

Success with bulbs depends to a large degree on the quality of the bulb. For the highest quality and to get the varieties you want, order early. If purchasing off the shelf, buy as soon as the bulbs are displayed for sale. Some specialty bulb sources that I have used are: Southernbulbs.com oldhousegardens.com, and brentandbeckysbulbs.com.

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