Bulbs produce beautiful flowers by growing roots, sending up leaf shoots and producing flower stems. Many people can name the most common of spring flowering blossoms such as tulips, daffodils and grape hyacinths. Fall blooming bulbs are more difficult to bring to mind. They are viewed as uncommon, though they produce fantastic fall color before the gray winter weather appears.
Hybrid Tuberous Begonias
Hybrid tuberous begonias (Begonia tuberhybrida) grow fleshy stems with heart-shaped leaves that are winter hardy in USDA zone 10. This bushy plant springs from a flattened, light brown bulb. The brightly colored blossoms come in nearly every color but blue and purple. These flowers grow up to 4 inches across and begin to appear in the late summer or early autumn. Pinch off the dying blossoms to keep the begonias' appearance neat looking.
Autumn crocus (Colchicum speciosum) grow wide, flattened glossy green leaves in the late fall or early spring. These leaves grow longer throughout the spring then die back to the ground by early summer. Rosy-pink, cup-shaped blossoms appear in the late summer or early fall to the height of 4 to 6 inches. The flowers are not accompanied by green leaves when it is time to bloom. These bulbs are winter hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9. Autumn crocus is commonly planted under low shrubs and trees.
Hardy cyclamen (Cyclamen hederifolium) begins blooming in the early fall with pink or white flowers on top of 4- to 6-inch leafless stems. The blossoms are 1 inch long and have upward-tilting petals. After the cyclamen blooms are finished, then heart-shaped, green leaves with silver markings emerge. These leaves die back shortly before the next blossoming cycle. Protect wild hardy cyclamen by purchasing only nursery-raised plants and bulbs. Cyclamen will survive winters in USDA zones 5 to 9.
Dahlias form bushy, compact mounds of green, divided leaves. Sometimes these leaves are tinted with purple shades. Large, puffy flower heads appear in the middle of summer and continue blooming throughout the fall. Dahlia blossoms grow 1 to 8 inches across in nearly every color including near black, but they do not come in true blue. The flower stems can reach heights of 1 to 5 feet, depending on the type of dahlia plants. This bulb is winter hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11, otherwise they are treated as annuals. Dahlias' large, dramatic flowers produce attractive cut flowers for showy bouquets.