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21.10.13

Miniature Garden Bulbs for Small-Space Gardens

Every garden should have spring-blooming bulbs, and small space gardens are no exception. Fall is the perfect time to plant bulbs in the garden if you are looking for spring interest and color in your garden. Here are six miniature garden bulbs for small-space gardens that I recommend you make room for in your garden even if your garden is the size of a postage stamp.

Small Space Garden Bulbs

While you don't have to have a small garden to plant these spring bloomers, these small-space garden bulb suggestions are fantastic alternatives to larger bulbs like tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. Bulbs, corms and tubers--that are not much larger than your finger--can pack a big and colorful punch.

1. Muscari/Grape hyacinth

Muscari bulb flowers

Grape hyacinth is the common name of Muscari genus of perennial bulbs. The blue varieties are the most commonly seen planted in gardens, but there is a white variety that is just as nice. Often times these tiny bulbs are planted in masse to create undulating rivers of blue in landscapes to great effect. A few handfuls of these bulbs are a great alternative to hyacinths, which are more costly. The small, strappy foliage is easily hiddens or mixed in with grassy paths.

2. Species tulips

Tulipa polychroma-flowers

I like large, dramatic and colorful tulips as much as the next gardener, but I have to admit that dealing with the ugly foliage of tulips every summer gets to be a pain. So why not plant some species tulips instead? Species tulips are the wild tulips that all of our modern hybrid tulips come from. And while not as popular as the flamboyant hybrid tulips, they provide the same spring color and interest, but in smaller, more compact flowers and foliage. There is enough diversity in species tulips that the creative side of you will not feel constricted. Unlike the hybrid tulips, these tulips will not die out after a few years and need to be replaced. With proper care, these easy-to-grow tulips will naturally propagate and you'll get many free bulbs.

3.Crocus

Crocus flowers

Crocuses are flowering corms in the iris family. Crocus blooms are among some of my favorite of any flowers you'll find in the garden. The "bulb" I'm holding in the picture at the top of this post is a crocus corm. Can you believe that from such a tiny and unattractive things spring these jewel-toned beauties? A big plus, in my book at least, is the grass-like foliage that remains after the bulb has stopped flowering. It looks so much like grass that you can plant crocus bulbs in masse in a lawn and it will make your lawn look lush and alive before its time.

4. Chionodoxa

Chionodoxa flowers

Chionodoxa, better known as glory-of-the-snow--because it is hella easier to pronounce, is another small bulb that doesn't get enough attention by gardeners that plant spring-blooming bulbs. They come in blue, white and pink varities that look like floating stars in the drab spring garden. It's amazing to walk into the garden and see these cheerful little blooms when there's still snow on the ground in the garden.

5. Dwarf Narcissus

Dwarf narcissus flower

Dwarf Narcissus bulbs are a fantastic alternative to growing daffodils. Like tulips, the dead foliage of daffodils just creates an unnecessary garden chore in the summer. There are many cultivars of dwarf narcissus bulbs to choose from and they provide the same rays of color at a fraction of the size of their larger counterparts.

6. Scilla

Scilla

Scilla, sometimes called squill, is another genus of dwarf flowering bulbs that you should plant in your garden. Planted in masse, these petite blue or white flowers can create a striking carpet of blooms in the spring garden.

These minature garden bulbs for small-space gardens are just as attractive as larger bulbs, but their tiny sizes look more proportionate in small and urban gardens. They're easy-to-grow, don't have as messy foliage, fit nicely in pockets of alpine gardens, and planted in masse can put on a flowering show to river large varieties that everyone else in your neighborhood is growing. If you don't plant garden bulbs, and you should, look for a bulb society near you to get acquainted with what you're missing out on.

What are your favorite miniature garden bulbs to plant? I'm particularly interested in learning about small garden bulbs in climates that don't experience snow in winter, so feel free to speak up.

16 comments:

  1. Such pretty little things they are! I started with five (seriously, 5) bulbs of Tete a Tete mini daffodils about 10 years ago. Now I have so many they are almost a nuisance. (Kidding!) It's great to have an almost endless supply to put in new beds as I make them. But, I need to try some of the others.

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    1. Haha, Tete a Tete mini daffodils are the kind of weedy garden plant I would love to have to deal with. I'll trade you some burdock for your mini daffodils.

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  2. Where do you buy your bulbs? I realize that you don't want to be overly-promotional, but do you find them at big box stores, the websites that pop up in the first page or two when you google something like "buy bulbs online," or somewhere else?

    (I have trouble with this with gardening in general. I see a nice plant online or in a book, but with no indication of how common it is or where I might find it or whether I want an adult plant, seeds, or what. Though this is a more general gripe, not particularly directed at you. You've taught me a lot about seed saving, which means I'm ahead on finding plants (for free!).)

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    1. Fuzzytrees,

      Almost all of the bulbs you'll see on this blog came from either Menards or the grocery chain ALDI (they were a really cheap source of crocus bulbs) and clearance sections of independently owned garden centers. I know your frustration, I don't do much online or catalog plant shopping. I'm the kind of person that needs to take him his purchase right after paying for it.

      I know Brent and Becky's Bulbs has a really good online reputation for customer service. And if you're a landscaper, wholesaler, or garden center, I like the Netherland Bulb Company. I'm not a garden pro at all but I've seen them a lot at trade shows and they send me their catalog and I like a lot of the bulbs in it. Longfield Gardens sent me a bunch of amaryllis bulbs to try last year, and if their other bulbs are of the same quality, they could be a good company to buy from.

      Hope this helps.

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    2. Buying your bulbs when you can see, feel and smell them is a recipe for success. What you want to see is a bulb without mold, puckering or blemishes they should be firm and not soft to the touch and no musty odor should be present. If you follow these three steps you will enjoy your bulbs for years to come. Of course that is if you plant them appropriately and under the right conditions.

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    3. @Renata

      Thanks for the bulb buying tips!

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    4. MrBrownThumb,

      Thank you for your thorough response! There's an ALDI not too far from me, so maybe I'll go check it out (though I realize that it might be a bit late now)! I guess finding useful garden centers near me is one of those things I'll figure out as I go along. Those websites also look nice, thanks!

      And thank you, too, Renata!

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  3. Good info! I a going to look up Chionodoxa to see if it will grow here in south Florida, zone 10! The only bulbs I see here are amaryllis, rain lilies, gloriosas,swamp lilies and a few other lilys (not many).

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    1. Julie, Aside from the swap lilies, you Florida gardeners grow some of my favorite bulbs. I need a greenhouse or a second home in Florida to indulge my love for tender and tropical bulbs.

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  4. I love bulbs and plant many in my very small city garden, but do battle the squirrels to keep my bounty of bulbs WHERE I plant them. I have come up with many ways to keep the squirrels fed and not feasting on bulbs, but they are crafty critters when digging deep for those tulips. I do find they are not quite as fond of the species tulips, which I plant in numbers. The daffs they dig up and relocate just to bug me I think.

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    1. I think maybe the squirrels around here either like me, or they hate bulbs because I have left bulbs out on a rock to see how long they took too eat them and they never did. I should maybe do a blog post about that experiment. I'm glad I don't have a squirrel and bulb problem. :0)

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    2. Nice list! I love grape hyacinths, and I found this cool Yellow variety at McClure & Zimmerman. It smells great! They have a large variety of unusual bulbs, and I've always had good luck with the bulbs they send.

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    3. This dibble works great for those small bulbs, too :)

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  5. Mr Brown Thumb- What a thorough list for people who want to grow bulbs in small spaces! We shared on our Facebook page. Thank you!

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  6. Your Crocus Photo is So Gorgeous , I Never thought it comes from the "Ugly" small things ,

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