Spring Perennial Bulb Plants

Spring planting has been initiated here at the Peninsula, culminating traditionally Memorial Day weekend and a plant sale at the local agricultural center as well as nurseries around the county.

Suggested spring/fall bulb planting for perennials follows with description of plants I suggest. This list is perennials that bloom early spring to early summer. Hardiness Zone for these plants is 5 to 9. Zone 4 if you plant deep enough and mulch heavily in fall to protect bulbs from deep freeze. I always cut back the leaves in fall to a 3-5 inches above ground.

It keeps your bed looking neater looking and readies for the spring sprouting of new growth. I have listed them according to height and placement in flower bed:

Indian Hyacinth
Indian Hyacinth:
This bulb plant, genus
Camassia, is native to western Canada, western United States, southern British Columbia, northern California, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana – the colder climate and mountainous regions. It grows wild in meadows where moisture content is high and grows to a height from 12 to 50 inches and blooms in the spring with multi-flowered stems whose leaves can measure from 8 to 32 inches long. Planting depth is 4 inches and spacing is 4 to 6 inches. Once used as a food staple by Native Americans and settlers of the American Old West, it now graces
many flower gardens across North America, especially in cooler states.
Caution about the Camassia species: some plants that grow in the same area and look like the edible plants are toxic. Like mushrooms, know your
plants before attempting to use as a nutritious food staple.
Angel Wing Iris
Angel Wing Iris:
Planting depth: 3 inches; spacing: 3 to 5 inches. Grows 18-24 inches tall. Flowers bloom in spring in white, yellow and bright orange. It is deer, rabbit and squirrel resistant. It is also called the Dutch Iris and flowers in late spring. They make good cut flowers because the stalks are sturdy. 
This is a favorite of many gardens that comes in a myriad of varieties and colors. Our tulips have been cross breeding so they have become multi-colored from the original red and yellow to a mixture of both. Colors are as variable as species – yellow, pink, red, purple, blue, orange, and even black (very dark purple), and a combination color splash. Plant tulips at 6 inch depth and space about 6 inches. These plants are early bloomers sometimes seen blooming through late spring snow. They grow from 24 to 28 inches, with some varieties having less height, which then can be placed more to the front of a flower bed.
Also called the
Narcissus plant, it is a hardy early spring flowering perennial bulb plant of the Amarylliss family. This plant once it gets established is prolific and normally
is seen yellow in color, but some are white-orange. Plant 6 inches deep and space the bulbs 4 to 6 inches. The Narcissus species has been used by the Japanese to treat wounds, the root crushed and mixed with wheat flour paste to make a poultice. It was listed by Roman physician
Aulus Cornelius Celsus in De Medicina among
medical herbs. In Wales, Daffodils are grown commercially to produce
galantamine, a drug used to combat symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. 
Ithuriel’s Spear
Triplet Lily:
Also known as
Triteleia, it is native to North America from British Columbia to Guatemala. It is most commonly found in California. The name is descriptive of the fact that its flowers bloom in threes. Plant at 3 inches depth and space 2 to 3 inches apart. They grow from 20 to 22 inches in height. The golden plant is yellowish, but it also is available as a purple-white flower known as Ithuriel’s
. You can find this, and many of the perennial bulbs listed here at Michigan Bulb Company. I get much of my bulbs and other interesting plants from them. Be aware that they only will ship when the time is right for your particular zone, which means if you wait too long to order, they will not ship the product until fall or next planting season. So plan accordingly. Michigan Bulb does this to ensure that plants are received in good condition and the right time for planting. It is part of their quality control that some consumers don’t understand; and contrary to negative comments on the Internet, I have never had a problem with their customer service. I only had to request one plant to be either replaced or receive credit. I received a credit slip for the amount paid for and it is good whenever I want to use it, which will be the next order. I have only had to request credit once out of the many years of ordering from them. Follow the instructions carefully that
is supplied with every shipment and you will succeed in establishing interesting and colorful flower beds – whether full sun or full shade. Watch for sales they have and save money.
Candle Bush
Candle Flowers:
This plant comes in varieties with different names:
Candle Bush, Empress Candle Plant, and Candlestick Cassia to name a few. It is also varied in category as shrubs or trees. Spacing also varies for planting, but it requires at least 6 to 8 feet. So if you use these plants in your flower bed as a rear-bed plant, plan your garden accordingly. They grow tall with some from 6 to 8 feet in height and the tree variety growing 12 to 15 feet tall. They have beautiful clustered yellow flowers. The drawback is that I cannot grow it here unless in a greenhouse because its Hardiness Zone is 8-11, tropical regions. And, if I did grow in greenhouse, it would have to be trimmed as a dwarf bush. It requires full sun, of course and blooms from mid summer to early middle fall.
Chapel Bells: This is a variety of the Iris bulb plant. It is a bearded Iris that grows from 12 to 14 inches tall, short compared to many Iris plants. Planting depth is 3 inches and spacing is 2 to 3 inches. It has a wide Hardiness Zone from 3 to 8 and does well in colder climates.
English Bluebell: This plant is familiar to the English folks and in Scotland and has sweet-scented violet-blue flowers. It grows from 10 to 14 inches high and spreads rapidly, so must be controlled when used in flower bed. However, it can also be grown to be in a wild arrangement in a meadow
or among a stand of trees. It is rich in pollen and nectar so attracts bumblebees and grow best in slightly acidic soil. 
Star of Bethlehem
Star of Bethlehem: One of my favorite perennial bulb plants, it is native to southern Europe and southern Africa. It’s name is based upon its star-shaped flowers as well as after the biblical account of the birth of Jesus. It can be grown in full sun or partial shade, but has more flowers when it gets more sun. The Hardiness Zone is 4 through 10. Planting depth is 3 inches, spacing 5 to 6 inches and only grows about 6 to 12 inches tall. They are low maintenance as long as the soil is well-drained. The Star of Bethlehem is poisonous to livestock, dogs, and cats, so plant accordingly. Another caution is that it is a pervasive plant and will overtake a flower bed if you do not dig out bulbs occasionally. It blooms in the spring.  

Blue Grape Hyacinths: If you like purple, you will like these beauties that grow no higher than 6 to 8 inches. It is a bulb perennial and is planted at a 3 inch depth, spaced about 3 inches. I have just planted ten of them in a new raised flower bed I constructed around our Internet satellite dish post to dress it up. The are intermingled with the Bleeding Heart plants and one climbing miniature rose plant that will intertwine around the satellite receiver dish pole. They only flower in the spring. 
Early Stardrift: A white flowering bulb perennial that grows about 6 inches tall and produces beautiful flowers in the early spring. It compliments the blue-grape hyacinth in color coordination. Hardiness Zones: 3 to 9. it will grow in full sun or partial shade. There are some varieties that have light blue flowers. When planting perennial bulb plants, for best results, plant according to height as well as when they bloom. These plants listed are early to late spring bloomers. If you want color during the growing season mix in summer bloomers and late summer bloomers to keep the color growing through the growing season. In preparation for Memorial Day, I have installed a
flagpole complete with a solar LED spotlight to properly illuminate the US flag at night, so I don’t have to take the flag down at dusk and back again in mornings. While it is tradition to fly the flag at half mast until noon and then raise it again, I leave the flag at half mast until around noon, then raise it full mast. I will provide a picture of the installed flag later because I am presently digging the sod out and putting in an extended flower bed between the White Paper Birch tree I have cultivated and pruned to be a dwarf tree that will be no more than 6  feet tall; much like a large version of the Japanese
Bonzai plants, and not in a pot. The tree is now at its full height of a little over 6 feet. 

 Garden Tip: I recently discovered that using newspaper/magazines as a base foundation for mulching will choke out weeds when it is about one inch thick.It works even better if you shred the newspaper.

Remember what Memorial Day is for.