Who doesn’t want to enjoy the colors and scents of spring in their garden? In spring most gardens in the United States will bloom with colorful tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. However, not all gardens are able to enjoy the same flowers as others due to regional climate differences.
Fall planted bulbs like tulips and hyacinths require specific temperatures in order to produce a flower bud. Gardeners in warm areas like southern states and coastal areas usually don’t have consistently cold enough temperatures for the bulbs to form a bud. This does not mean that gardeners in warm climates can’t plant bulbs in fall or early winter for spring blooms. It means they have to select the bulbs that don’t require cold temperatures for a bud to form. For those lucky enough to live in an area with warm winters this list of the best bulbs for warm climates will help determine what to plant in late fall and winter.
Find Your Hardiness Zone
Not sure what hardiness zone you are located in? It will be helpful for reading these suggestions to know your hardiness zone to see what bulbs will grow best in your area. Check out this hardiness zone finder from Holland Bulb Farms here.
10 Fall-Planted Bulbs That Grow Well in Southern States and Warm Climates
Allium flowers produce blooms in varying colors and shapes. The large globe-shaped blooms of many allium varieties are the most popular varieties. Allium giganteum, Ostara Allium, and Purple Sensation Allium all put on a show with their geometric blooms. Allium are among the last flowers to bloom in spring and always garner plenty of attention. There is no need to chill allium bulbs prior to planting if you are in zones 3-8.
Arguably one of the most popular spring-blooming bulbs. Daffodils are classified into 12 different divisions based on flower shape and size. The flower shape and size aren’t the only factors of the different daffodil divisions, what climates they grow in is another important difference. Daffodils of the Tazetta and Jonquil divisions perform the best in warm climates. However, all other classifications of daffodils will grow well in the majority of the United States up to hardiness zone 8 or 9 depending on the specific variety with the exception of the very warmest areas such as southern Florida.
The beacons of spring! Crocus flowers will appear early in spring and often are the first to appear after winter. Blooming in shades of yellow, purple, and white these dainty bloomers are easy to fit into any garden plan. Southern gardeners can plant crocus this fall or early winter and see blooms as early as mid-to-late February. Crocus bulbs can be planted in hardiness zones 3-8.
While technically most varieties of lilies don’t bloom in spring. It is important to mention lily bulbs in this group of suggested bulbs for warm climates as they are versatile and grow in a range of climates. Oriental Lilies, Asiatic Lilies, and Orienpet Lilies can be planted in fall or spring. However, gardeners in warm climates will have better success if they plant these bulbs in late fall or early winter when their soil and air temperatures are cooler. Lily bulbs can be planted and grown successfully in hardiness zones as high as zone 9.
Iris hollandica and it’s cultivars grow well in warm and cold climates. Dutch Irises vary in height with the dwarf Dutch Iris reaching only 8″ at maturity. Tall Dutch iris are lean and tall reaching heights of 18-24″. Blue is a common color seen in Dutch Iris blooms, as well as purple, white, red, and yellow. Dutch Iris both tall and dwarf varieties can be planted in hardiness zones as warm as zone 9.
Bearded irises are beauties of the late spring garden. Ruffled petals and colorful flowers are the key features of these perennial bulbs. Bearded Iris are some of the best fall-planted bulbs for growing in warm climates. Like most bulbs, bearded iris prefer soil that is loose and drains well. Bearded Iris grows in hardiness zones 3-9.
Lavender Mountain Lilies
An uncommon spring-blooming bulb that grows well in hardiness 5-9 is Lavender Mountain Lilies. Sometimes sold by their botanical name Ixiolirion they have bell-shaped blue flowers that bloom in late spring. Grow lavender mountain lilies in soil that drains well and is dry in summer.
This bulb goes by many names like Spider Lily, Disappearing Lily, and Magic Lily. Lycoris bloom in summer, but they are planted in fall therefore they made our list. Red, yellow, white, and orange spider lilies grow best in hardiness zones 7-10. Pink Magic Lilies grow in hardiness zones 5-9. Lycoris will grow leaves in spring, but no flowers, and the leaves disappear prior to the blooms forming. The tall grass-like leaves with strappy spider-like blooms appear in late summer. After the bulbs are done blooming they disappear until the next season.
Buttercups have dainty double rose-shaped blooms in spring. They are not hardy in cold climates, therefore fall planting should be reserved for warm hardiness zones 7-9. Ranunculus, also commonly called buttercups prefer soil that drains well and a full sun location for the best blooms. They are a bit finicky when it comes to the climate they are grown in. They grow best when planted in moderate daytime temperatures in the 60’s. If planted when it is too warm, they will remain dormant until it cools off again.
Also known as Desert Candles these showy late spring-blooming bulbs are unique and eye-catching. Foxtail lilies require soil that has adequate drainage, and will not grow in heavy or wet soils. They will grow well in warmer areas, even as warm as hardiness zone 9.
Planting Flower Bulbs in Warm Climates
While spring-planted bulbs are the shining stars for warm areas it does not mean fall-planted bulbs should be left out. Gardeners in warm areas such as Texas, Arizona, Florida, California, and the southeastern United States can plant bulbs and perennials later in fall and into early winter. Fall planted bulbs can be planted as late as mid-January in warm hardiness zones for blooms in a couple of months. Bare root perennials can also be planted in late fall or early winter in mild areas for the next summer of blooms.
If a person is set on having tulips blooming in your yard but live in hardiness zones 8 and the bulbs can be chilled prior to planting. To learn more about chilling and forcing flower bulbs check out Flower Bulb Chilling and Forcing: 101