Late spring can be a garden interval with little flowering activity. Early bulbs are gone, leaving their dying foliage behind, and late perennials and new annual plants are not quite to the bloom stage. Bridge this color gap with flower bulbs that bloom in late spring. They will help hide the expiring early flowers while splashing some color in the garden before the main season summer flowers appear.
Firecracker flowers (Dichelostemma ida-maia) are native to areas near the Pacific Ocean, mainly northern California. The Pacific Bulb Society provides information on different species of Dichelostemma, including the species ida-maia, commonly called firecracker flower.
Firecracker flowers are found as far south as Baja and north to Oregon, and in open woodlands, meadows, and even on the high country borders of the western Mojave Desert. This carefree wildflower requires a dry summer dormant period, but it needs to be kept moist when foliage and flowers are present.
The blossoms of firecracker flower are arranged in umbels on long stems. Blossoms are elongated and tubular, bright red with greenish tips folded back to expose the pistils and stamens. Firecracker flowers have the distinction of being pollinated by birds, the only species of Dichelostemma with this attribute.
Tulips (Tulipa renown unique) bloom early, mid-season, or late in the spring. A specific variety of late spring tulip, renown unique, is described by Shoot Gardening. This plant has a fully double bloom that has so many petals it resembles a peony. The bud opens with a first layer of yellow-green petals, followed by pink petals to the center of the ruffled flower. As this late blooming tulip matures, the petal color changes to deep pink. The contrasting yellow-green outer ring of petals remains for the duration of the flower. Blooms are long-lasting in the garden, as well as in a vase.
Trim off dead flowers after blooming, but allow leaves to remain and wither. The leaves store energy in the bulb for the following year's blooms. Clean up the dead foliage after it is completely brown.
Pink buttercup (Oxalis adenophylla) is a low-growing perennial that blooms in late spring and early summer. According to Backyard Gardener, pink buttercup is one of more than 800 varieties of Oxalis. The small plants are mound-shaped, about 10 inches in height and diameter. The foliage of this variety is silvery-green, with a frosty appearance. The leaves are lobed and resemble clover leaves. The mound of foliage is covered by pastel pink flowers about one inch in diameter for several weeks in late spring.
The flowers and leaves of pink buttercups close up during the night and on overcast days. Although they produce seeds, pink buttercups are usually planted as bulbs. They prefer full sun or partial shade. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy.