minor bulbs, major impact

squill ( scilla siberica )

squill (scilla siberica)

minor bulbs, major impact

With the arrival of the earliest days of spring comes the first flush of blooms from the often unheralded but most welcome minor bulbs - crocus, squill, snowdrops, winter aconite, spring snowflake, grape hyacinth, glory-of-the-snow, wood hyacinth bluebells, and dwarf narcissi. Often passed over for the showier larger bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, minor bulbs can play an important role in the landscape by extending the season earlier into the year and providing blooms when they are so desperately missed. More delicate in structure than the major bulbs, the minors, when planted en masse, provide a visual display that is unrivaled - a carpet of color, such as the wood hyacinth bluebells along a woodland path (below). 

Above: wood hyacinth bluebells along a woodland path, snowdrops, spring snowflakes, glory-in-the-snow, winter aconite, wood hyacinth bluebells

Planted in the fall, the minor bulbs require little care besides a spot with well-drained soil and full sun, which is usually easily achieved in the early spring before the leaves have appeared on the trees. Most will perform as perennials, multiplying through seed or offsets, and form large drifts over time. A top-dressing with bulb fertilizer in early spring when the new growth emerges is all the care that's required. So make a note to add some minor bulbs this fall to your landscape and next spring you can enjoy their early miniature wonder!