Plant once and enjoy blooms for years. That is the goal of many gardeners. Busy lives and budgetary concerns make planting perennial bulbs appealing. You can plant hundreds of bulbs this fall and reap the rewards for years; it will be worth the time and effort to do so. If planting every season seems like a daunting task seeking out bulbs that are reliably perennial will make fall planting more enjoyable. Fortunately, we have suggestions for the most reliable perennial fall bulbs that will grace your garden for years!
Best Perennial Flower Bulbs
The number one choice for flower bulbs that are perennial are daffodils. Daffodils are also deer, rabbit, and squirrel resistant, adding to their appeal for the no-fuss gardener. While nearly all daffodils will return to the garden for years some of the classic tried and true favorites are better at returning for many years than others.
- Dutch Master Daffodil
- Tete a Tete Daffodil
- Carlton Daffodil
- Mt Hood Daffodil
- Minnow Daffodil
- Mallee Pink Daffodil
- British Gamble Daffodil
- Ice Follies Daffodil
- Thalia Daffodil
- Pheasant’s Eye Recurvus Daffodil
Daffodils grow best in zones 3-8 and should be planted in fall to early winter when the soil temperatures are cool. They are some of the easiest and most low-maintenance bulbs to grow, the main requirement is that they have soil that drains well, as they do not like wet saturated soil. For more in-depth daffodil information check out The Beginner’s Guide to Growing Daffodils.
Fragrant hyacinths are grown for their enchanting scent. However, they have a tendency to return to the garden for many years as well. In addition to being reliably perennial, they are also deer-resistant. Plant hyacinth bulbs 6-8″ deep for the best chance of the bulbs returning for several years. Similar to daffodils in that most hyacinths will return to the garden for several years. However, the classic varieties tend to be the most likely to be perennial.
- Blue Jacket Hyacinth
- Jan Bos Hyacinth
- Aiolos Hyacinth
- Pink Pearl Hyacinth
- Purple Pride Hyacinth
- Delft Blue Hyacinth
For more information on growing hyacinth bulbs check out our Complete Guide to Growing Hyacinths.
These fun late spring blooming flowers are generally no-fuss. The unique blooms of allium are show-stoppers and conversation starters. Alliums are deer resistant and several varieties are reliably perennial, returning to the garden for many years. They absolutely need soil that drains well and do not tolerate wet, or saturated soils. Other than the soil draining well, they grow in hardiness zones 4-9 and are easy-to-grow reliable perennial bulbs.
Beautiful and colorful bearded irises are strong and reliable perennials. They will return to the garden for years if not decades. Dividing bearded iris every 5 years is necessary to keep the bulbs blooming. Read more about dividing and caring for bearded iris here. There are plenty of color combinations to choose from when selecting bearded iris, and fortunately, most are perennial. There are bearded iris that are superior because of their color and ability to re-bloom later in the season.
Best Perennial Bearded Iris:
These delightful dainty bulbs are one of the best things to see in the garden every spring. Crocus are a reliable perennial fall bulb that will return to the garden for many years. One caution when planting crocus is that hungry squirrels in the fall can steal them. To help combat this, plant the crocus later in fall closer to the time the ground will be frozen. Use a repellant on the bulbs when planting to deter the squirrels from stealing them. Or plant the bulbs with mesh garden wire over where they are planted so the squirrels can’t easily dig them up. If the crocus bulbs can be protected from squirrel attacks they will return to the garden for many years.
When looking for reliable perennial fall bulbs many often question if tulips are perennial. The bad news is that not all tulips are perennial. The good news is that there are some tulip varieties that have perennial tendencies.
In addition to planting tulips that tend to be perennial, there are some things that can be done to increase the chances of the tulips returning each year. Be sure the tulips are planted in a hardiness zone that provides the cold temperatures needed to produce a flower bud. The soil should be well draining, as tulips don’t like to sit in wet soils. If the planting area can be kept dry in the summer months, other than rain fall that helps to mimic the natural growing conditions of tulips. For more in-depth information on growing tulips check out 20+ perennial tulip suggestions here.
- Red Impression Darwin Hybrid Tulip
- Golden Apeldoorn Darwin Hybrid Tulip
- Ivory Floradale Darwin Hybrid Tulip
- Daydream Darwin Hybrid Tulip
- Banja Luka Darwin Hybrid Tulip
- Purissima Fosteriana Tulip
- Orange Brilliant Fosteriana Tulip
- Red Emperor Fosteriana Tulip
- Menton Single Late Tulip
- Queen of Night Single Late Tulip
- Little Princess Botanical Tulip
- Lilac Wonder Botanical Tulip
- Little Beauty Botanical Tulip
- Concerto Greigii Tulip
- Sweet Lady Greigii Tulip
Reliable Perennial Fall Bulbs for Years of Blooms
Planting bulbs that are perennial is the first step to having bulbs that return for years. However, there are some additional actions to take to help the process.
- Be sure you are planting bulbs that grow well in your hardiness zone.
- Soil that drains well is important for all bulbs, and especially for the long-term growth of the bulbs.
- If you can avoid excess water from a sprinkler or irrigation system to the bulbs in summer and fall, this can help ensure they are perennial as they don’t like excess water when dormant.
- Applying a granular slow-release bulb fertilizer in fall and in spring when the leaves emerge with produce stronger, healthier bulbs. This last tip can be somewhat difficult to accomplish however, it can make a big difference.
Follow these tips above and also plant reliable perennial fall bulbs for years of blooms in spring.