If you want a burst of color right after the snow, then fall is the time to start planning and planting. The stores receive their spring bulbs in the fall, signaling the time has come to plant. Some of the more popular bulbs are the crocus, hyacinth, tulip and daffodil. Let us find some that are not so popular.
Blue Star Windflower
The blue star windflower is a low-growing flower with blooms that resemble a daisy. They bloom in blue, pink or white, and the centers are sunny yellow. They are not really bulbs at all, but rhyzomes. When you buy or receive them in the mail, you should soak them overnight before you plant them. The blue star windflower is hardy in zone 6. Plant them 2 to 3 inches deep and 3 to 4 inches apart. Their flowers resemble round buttons about 2 inches wide with no true petals to make it up. They bloom in the colors of white, pink or the bi-color of blue and white. They prefer a rich soil and partial shade to grow in. Despite what their name suggests, if you protect them from the wind, they will bloom longer.
Glory-of-the-snow belongs to the lily family and is hardy in zone 4. The leaves are dark green, and there are two leaves per stem. The flower is about an inch across and resembles a star shape. They are blue with a white center and have about five of them in a cluster. They are a small plant that grows between 3 and 6 inches in height. They prefer plain soil as long as it drains well. These add a lovely accent if planted under deciduous shrubs. They will multiply on their own, but it takes some time. They are hardy to zone 4.
Fritillaria meleagris, commonly known as checkered lily or guinea-hen flower, has flowers that have a checkered pattern on the outside of the flower petals. The flowers come in a variety of colors, including cream, rose and burgundy. They flower in the early spring, and the flowers resemble those of a tulip only they hang upside down. They grow between 9 and 15 inches tall. Their leaves are few, but are a dark green color and grow 3 to 6 inches long. They prefer rich moist soil and like to grow in full sun or part shade. Plant 4 to 6 inches deep and the same distance apart. After the foliage ripens, you can divide this plant. The checkered lily is hardy to zone 4.
Crown imperial is another member of the fritillaria family. They grow almost 3 feet in height and look like the oriental lily. Like the lily, a stiff upright stem holds the flowers upright, and they have clusters of orange or yellow flowers. A tuft of foliage protects these flowers for good reason. As pretty as this plant looks, it makes up for it in the way the flowers smell. If you crush the flowers or leaves, they will give off a skunk-like aroma that repels mice and other rodents. The crown imperial is hardy to zone 4.
Nectaroscordum siculum is a fancy name for Sicilian honey garlic, a member of the Allium family. The flowers grow on top of a 3- to 4-foot stalk and have clusters of small pink/purple flowers. They look like little puffballs. The blooming period is late spring or early summer. The leaves are 18 inches long and 2 to 4 inches wide. If you crush this plant's leaves, it gives off the Allium scent. They look the best if planted in groups of five to seven. Plant this bulb 6 to 8 inches deep and 1 foot apart. The Sicillian honey garlic is hardy to zones 4. They prefer to be planted in full sun and well-drained soil.
Siberian Squill or Scilla siberica resemble grass when you see them growing. They grow 6 inches long and are ½ inch wide. They have blue flowers that resemble a bell. One plant will have between one and six flower stems, and they have three to five clusters of flowers per stem. They enjoy growing in a sandy soil in either full sun or part shade. They give a splash of color under deciduous shrubs and trees or even as small splashes of color throughout your lawn. They will multiply over time. These flowers are hardy to zone 4.
If you are thinking of spring flowers, plant something different this year. Explore bulb books and be adventurous. You will be the envy of the neighborhood.