Bulb Planting in Southern California


When you mention “bulb planting” most people think of tulips and bulbs associated with beautiful pictures of gardens from Holland and other northern climes where bulbs require a period of cold (vernalization) in order to grow and flower. So if you want your garden to reflect these images there will be a certain amount of work involved.

Vernalized Bulbs – beautiful but time consuming

In order to grow tulips, hyacinths or crocus, it’s necessary for the bulbs to spend some time in a cold atmosphere before planting. And late next spring, after they bloom, you’ll have to dig the bulbs up and store them in a cool, dry place until next fall. Repeat blooms means going through this ritual year after year—a fair amount of work, but the results can be gorgeous.

Non-Vernalized Bulbs – plant once and enjoy

If you can do without tulips and other vernalized bulbs, here’s a list of spring-flowering bulbs that you can plant this fall and enjoy for years to come:

Chinnodoxa – Glory In the Snow
  • Narcissus – including those generally labeled as daffodils, jonquils and their miniature varieties
  • Dutch Iris
  • Chionodoxa – “Glory in the Snow”
  • Grape Hyacinth
  • Fritillaria – a tall, unusual-looking member of the lily family, will last for years in your garden and produces brilliant bell-shaped flowers in several colors
  • Scilla – naturalizes in Southern California’s climate, producing spikes of blue, pink, lavender and white
  • Allium – sometimes called “flowering onion”
  • Freesias – produce loads of tubular flowers in shades of pink, red, salmon, white and yellow
  • Anemone
  • Ranunculus

Whether it be vernalized or non-vernalized bulbs you want, you’ll find a selection of fall-planted bulbs in garden centers and nurseries from September through late December. These are great sources for the best sellers: Daffodils, hyacinths, Dutch Iris, tulips, ornamental onions, but if you’re looking for something more unusual, check out mail-order suppliers (just Google “fall planting bulbs”) and you’ll find dozens of mail-order companies that provide lilies, grape hyacinth, Spanish bluebells, ranunculus, anemone, gladiolus, freesias and much, much more.

Once you have bulbs in hand, all you need to do then … is plant them.


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