Best flower bulbs for planting in dallas
The best gardeners in North Texas share one secret: They grow plants that have great yields with minimal effort. If you’re looking for an easy way to take your garden from a stressful disappointment to an easy dream, spring-blooming bulbs are the answer.
The bulbs are wonderfully easy to use, and many will come back for years, sometimes even decades. Although tulips tend to have the highest value in most landscapes, I prefer to plant less fussy support plants, such as daffodils, ornamental alliums, grape hyacinths, and snowflakes. Unlike tulips, which need to be replanted every year, these bulbs come back reliably every spring.
There is an endless debate about whether tulip bulbs should be refrigerated or not. The late founder of domestic lamp importer Abbott-Ipco swore they didn’t. But lamps can be a great investment, and in my book, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. To pre-chill tulips, place them in the refrigerator for six to eight weeks before planting. You can also purchase pre-chilled tulip bulbs from places like North Haven Gardens.
Late or double late tulips are the most reliable in our area. Some of my favorites include ‘Menton’, ‘Reown Unique’, ‘Maureen’, ‘Dordogne’ and ‘Bleu Aimable’. Other stand-ins include “Mrs. John T. Schippers,” “The Pink Impression,” “The Queen of the Night,” and “The King’s Blood.”
Unlike tulips, most daffodils will return reliably. Dependable varieties include ‘Carlton’, ‘Ice Follies’, ‘Double Play’, ‘Thalia’, ‘Avalanche’ and ‘Grand Primo’.
To encourage daffodils to return the following spring, leave the foliage in place for at least six weeks after they finish blooming. Old-fashioned daffodil plantings benefit from cross division to maintain vigorous blooms.
The giant alliums you see in gardening magazines will grow here, but they don’t look like they do in cooler climates. It blooms in a shade of maroon rather than the intense violet you see in catalogs.
I grow Allium schubertii for its star-pink flowers, which can reach 12 inches in diameter, and Allium sphaerocephalon (drumstick)—a favorite of legendary Dutch landscape designer Piet Oudolf, whose work influenced my landscape garden style.
Alliums can also be planted here in late January, so if you miss a fall planting, you still have time to add them to your garden.
Less common bulbs that are more worth using in North Texas landscapes include Red Spider Lily (Lycoris radiata), Naked Lady (Lycoris squamigera), native Texas Spider-lily (Hymenocallis liriosme), and Summer Snowflakes (Leucojum aestivum). All of these and other heirloom bulbs that work reliably can be found here at The Southern Bulb Company.
Five of my favorite sources for lamps
- John Schippers
- McClure and Zimmerman
- Dutch has grown
- Southern Lamp Company
When to plant?
How to plant
Planting dates are easier to remember when they are associated with holidays. For bulbs, just remember to plant them between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you plan to order online, shop early to get the best selection.
The general rule is to plant the bulb at a depth three times its length. For most tulips and daffodils, I plant them six inches deep.
If you have heavy clay soil, amend the area with compost and shale before planting to improve drainage and prevent bulb rot.
The trick to displaying visually beautiful bulbs is to take a cue from a Dallas nursery and plant as many bulbs as possible. To make it easier on the budget, choose one or two types and order in bulk. I order large quantities of Colorblends.
Most spring-flowering bulbs need full sun to do best, but you can also plant bulbs under deciduous trees that are just starting to drop their leaves in early spring.
Callie Works-Leary is a Texas Master Gardener and founder of Dallas Garden School, which offers classes and resources for North Texas gardeners. She is a native of Dallas.