Spring-Planted Bulbs: First Year Flowers For New Perennial Beds

by High Country Gardens

Garden of Spring Bulbs Blooming
Spring-planted bulbs add quick-blooming color to new perennial beds.

Our pre-planned perennial gardens have been very popular with High Country Garden customers for many years. Yet, as with all perennials, it often takes until the second growing season for them to reach mature size and fill out their planting bed.

For those of us who might be a little impatient for colorful flowers, spring planted bulbs can be an ideal solution. These bulbs can be inter-planted into the new pre-planned garden where they will bloom that first year they are planted.

An Easy Transition for That Second Growing Season

Many of these inexpensive spring planted bulbs are not cold hardy, so they can be used as annuals. Because they will generally freeze out over the winter, your pre-planned garden perennials will have plenty of room to grow up and bloom that following spring. It makes for an easy and low-care transition from the first season to the second one.

  1. Youth Dew Gladiolus, Gladiolus Youth Dew

    Green blossoms are prized by gardeners who love to use unusual accents, and the chartreuse color of ‘Youth Dew’ Gladiolus are tops the list. With a strong vertical shape and an a...

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    Youth Dew Gladiolus Youth Dew Gladiolus Gladiolus Youth Dew
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    Green blossoms are prized by gardeners who love to use unusual accents, and the chartreuse color of ‘Youth Dew’ Gladiolus are tops the list. With a strong vertical shape and an abundance of lemon-lime blossoms, tall ‘Youth Dew’ will contrast shades of violet, harmonize with whites and greens, and add a bright note of citrus to your garden. Heat tolerant, deer-resistant blooms attract pollinators and hummingbirds throughout the summer.
  2. White Polar Bear Gladiolus, close up of white petals

    Snowy white ‘Polar Bear’ Gladiolus brings a cool contrast to the heat of summer in the garden. Perfect for monochromatic or moonlight gardens, these large flowers offer a strikin...

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    Polar Bear Gladiolus Polar Bear Gladiolus Gladiolus Polar Bear
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    Snowy white ‘Polar Bear’ Gladiolus brings a cool contrast to the heat of summer in the garden. Perfect for monochromatic or moonlight gardens, these large flowers offer a striking vertical accent with sword-shaped foliage. Hummingbirds and pollinators will stand out against the ruffled bright white blooms.
  3. Hardy Gladiolus Nanus Mix, Gladiolus nanus, Hardy Gladiolus

    These smaller growing Gladiolus are cold hardy to zone 5 (when well mulched for winter). The mixture of pink, white and bi-colored flowers are wonderful at the front of your perennia...

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    Hardy Gladiolus Mix Hardy Gladiolus Mix Gladiolus nanus Mix
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    These smaller growing Gladiolus are cold hardy to zone 5 (when well mulched for winter). The mixture of pink, white and bi-colored flowers are wonderful at the front of your perennial border.
  4. Black Beauty Gladiolus Flowers

    Black Beauty Gladiolus (Gladiolus x hortulanus ‘Black Beauty’) rules the summer garden like a queen with its deep red, velvety spikes of flowers. Appearing almost black, they shi...

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    Black Beauty Gladiolus Black Beauty Gladiolus Gladiolus Black Beauty
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    Black Beauty Gladiolus (Gladiolus x hortulanus ‘Black Beauty’) rules the summer garden like a queen with its deep red, velvety spikes of flowers. Appearing almost black, they shimmer in the summer sun, lending a vertical elegance to a garden bed. Plant with white Gladiolus for a dramatic effect.

Spring Bulbs That Can Be Used as Annuals

  1. Yellow Eremurus stenophyllus, Eremurus bungei, Foxtail Lily

    Eremurus stenophyllus (Foxtail Lily or Desert Candle) blooms in early summer with tall spikes of bright yellow flowers. Foxtail Lilies' dramatic blooms make long lasting cut flowers ...

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    Yellow Foxtail Lily (Eremurus) Foxtail Lily, Desert Candle Eremurus stenophyllus
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    Eremurus stenophyllus (Foxtail Lily or Desert Candle) blooms in early summer with tall spikes of bright yellow flowers. Foxtail Lilies' dramatic blooms make long lasting cut flowers for striking bouquets. Plant them in well drained soil where they get full sun. Stunning!
  2. Cleopatra Foxtail Lily (Eremurus)

    Cleopatra Foxtail Lily (Eremurus) is an eye-catching wonder with tall fronds of luscious orange flowers that add drama and beautiful vertical lines in the early-to-mid summer garden....

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    Cleopatra Foxtail Lily (Eremurus) Cleopatra Foxtail Lily Eremurus Cleopatra
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    Cleopatra Foxtail Lily (Eremurus) is an eye-catching wonder with tall fronds of luscious orange flowers that add drama and beautiful vertical lines in the early-to-mid summer garden. Beautiful against an evergreen background. Sometimes known as Desert Candle.
  3. Macarena Foxtail Lily (Eremurus)

    Macarena Foxtail Lily (Eremurus), also known as Desert Candle, bears lovely cascades of bell-shaped apricot flowers on tall, 6-8 ft. stems, shimmering like a waving tail in the summe...

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    Macarena Foxtail Lily (Eremurus) Macarena Foxtail Lily Eremurus Macarena
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    Macarena Foxtail Lily (Eremurus), also known as Desert Candle, bears lovely cascades of bell-shaped apricot flowers on tall, 6-8 ft. stems, shimmering like a waving tail in the summer breeze. A gorgeous backdrop to a perennial bed or a stand-alone focal point. Pest resistant, it’s a pollinator favorite.
  4. Gladiolus Parrot Mix, Gladiolus, Large Flowering Gladiolus

    Native to South Africa, this hybrid mix of multi-colored beauties with contrasting edges, throats and blended shades is spectacular. Grow your own cut flower bouquets. Cold hardy in ...

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    Parrot Gladiolus Mix Parrot Gladiolus Mix Gladiolus Parrot Mix
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    Native to South Africa, this hybrid mix of multi-colored beauties with contrasting edges, throats and blended shades is spectacular. Grow your own cut flower bouquets. Cold hardy in zones 8-10. In colder zones lift the bulbs in fall and store in a cool place over the winter.

Colorful Dahlias

Dahlias are also a great choice to interplant into new pre-planned gardens. These tuberous bulbs are cold hardy to USDA zones 8-10. Dahlia tubers are often grown for several years by digging them from their beds in the fall. Store them in sphagnum peat moss in a cool spot over the winter to re-plant into pots or different parts of your garden for that second growing season.

The varieties listed below are compact growers and generally under 3 ft. in height so not to crowd out your young perennials, while providing ample cut flowers for your table and nectar for hummingbirds and other pollinators.

Compact Dahlia varieties with dark foliage

  1. Twyning's Smartie Dahlia, Dahlia Twyning's Smartie

    Fun, versatile, and in no need of staking, ‘Twyning’s Smartie’ Dahlia is a bi-colored single Dahlia that will delight you from summer until first frost with gorgeous blooms. Cu...

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    Twyning's Smartie Dahlia Twyning's Smartie Dahlia Dahlia Twyning's Smartie
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    Fun, versatile, and in no need of staking, ‘Twyning’s Smartie’ Dahlia is a bi-colored single Dahlia that will delight you from summer until first frost with gorgeous blooms. Cupped petals surround a daisy-like yellow center, playfully alternating between magenta, bright white, and the occasional brushstrokes of both colors. Blooms break differently – no two are exactly the same! With deep green foliage and a relatively compact form, there is room for these smart flowers in any garden. Single Dahlias make it easy for pollinators to find a meal, and make for attractive cut flowers.
  2. Café au Lait Dinnerplate Dahlia Flower Close Up

    Café Au Lait Dinnerplate Dahlia is so breathtakingly beautiful that it’s a favorite for special occasions everywhere. Big 6-10" sumptuous flowers are creamy white blushed with sha...

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    Cafe au Lait Dinnerplate Dahlia Café au Lait Dinnerplate Dahlia Dinnerplate Dahlia Cafe au Lait
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    Café Au Lait Dinnerplate Dahlia is so breathtakingly beautiful that it’s a favorite for special occasions everywhere. Big 6-10" sumptuous flowers are creamy white blushed with shades of pink, peach, and mocha. No two flowers are the same. Cut some of these beautiful blooms, and you’ll have a stunning bouquet.
  3. Emory Paul Dinnerplate Dahlia Flower

    Emory Paul Dinnerplate Dahlia is the largest flowering Dahlia we know of, with whopping 12-14" flowers in brilliant deep pink with light pink edges. Standing tall, they are a dramati...

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    Emory Paul Dinnerplate Dahlia Emory Paul Dinnerplate Dahlia Dinnerplate Dahlia Emory Paul
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    Emory Paul Dinnerplate Dahlia is the largest flowering Dahlia we know of, with whopping 12-14" flowers in brilliant deep pink with light pink edges. Standing tall, they are a dramatic, colorful addition to the summer garden.
  4. Dahlia Blue Boy

    A show-stopping lilac-blue semi-dinnerplate variety brings a unique color to the world of Dahlias. These well-formed flowers provide dramatic color in the border for many months from...

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    Blue Boy Dahlia Blue Boy Dahlia Dahlia Blue Boy
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    A show-stopping lilac-blue semi-dinnerplate variety brings a unique color to the world of Dahlias. These well-formed flowers provide dramatic color in the border for many months from midsummer.

Text by David Salman. © All articles are copyrighted by High Country Gardens. Republishing an entire High Country Gardens blog post or article is prohibited without written permission. Please feel free to share a short excerpt with a link back to the article on social media websites, such as Facebook and Pinterest.