Fall-blooming bulbs send up fresh-looking flowers at a time of year when summer's flowers are beginning to look a little ragged. Plant fall-blooming bulbs in early spring for flowers the same autumn. Most bulbs that bloom in autumn are low-growing. Plant them in the front of shrub borders or perennial flower borders to better enjoy their brief display of autumn bloom.
Not a true crocus, the autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale) is also called "meadow saffron." It sends up a flower stalk in autumn after its leaves have died down, on which bloom large flowers of purple, pink or white. Its leaves begin to grow in spring and die down to the ground after a few months. Plant autumn crocus in full sun to partial shade in well-drained soil. Mass the bulbs in groups in the planting site and plant them 3 inches deep and 6 inches apart. They are hardy through USDA Zone 5.
A true crocus, the showy crocus (Crocus speciosus) produces violet-blue flowers on 5- to 6-inch high plants in autumn. They have showy yellow anthers and stigmas of a deep orange. Plant showy crocus in well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. For the biggest impact, mass them together, planted about 4 inches apart and 4 inches deep.
A crocus-like white flower tipped in green, autumn snowflake (Leucojum autumnale) is a tender, fall-blooming bulb. It does best in full sun to partial shade. Autumn snowflake is best naturalized or planted in shrub borders. Plant bulbs 5 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart in early spring. Autumn snowflake is a semi-hardy bulb and is injured at temperatures below 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Dig the bulbs after the flowers fade in autumn and store them over winter dry at a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit.