17 Naturalizing Fall Bulbs for Easy Perennial Color

Naturalizing bulbs consistently bring color to the spring garden with little effort from the gardener! In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss introduces 17 bulbs to plant in the fall that will naturalize in your landscape.

beautiful crocus blooms glow in violet and white in a sunny spring garden.


There is something so charming about a natural-looking garden. It’s as if the flowers were not carefully curated and relegated to their spaces, but rather, they found their way to the garden and decided to stick around. If you love the look of a free-flowering, relaxed garden, naturalizing fall bulbs will get you there!

When we talk about bulbs that are good for naturalizing, we refer to bulbs that reliably return year after year. These bulbs reproduce and move around the garden with a natural rhythm. 

Creating a natural look with your bulbous perennials that will return and spread year after year is simple. One method is to toss a handful of bulbs into the space and simply plant them where they land. 

Another method is to be more deliberate about planting your bulbs in an informal pattern. You can create a nice sense of balance with this method, especially if you are planting a variety of different plants. I love a wild garden, but balance can be achieved while still maintaining an informal aesthetic. 

Many spring-blooming, bulbous perennial plants are excellent for naturalizing. Fall is the perfect time of year to get these bulbs started. With the cool weather beckoning us to spend time in the garden and the weeds going dormant, this is the ideal time to plant your naturalizing bulbs. 

Patience is necessary for this type of garden, but the resulting aesthetic will be worth the wait. Let’s look at some beautiful options for bulbs to plant in the fall that naturalize well in the garden.


Close-up of blooming Allium in a sunny garden. Allium, commonly known as ornamental onion, is a captivating perennial plant. Its distinctive flowers are composed of spherical clusters, resembling fireworks, and come in purple shades. The leaves are long, narrow, and basal, emerging from the base of the plant.
Numerous varieties have stunning globe-shaped flowers in cool blue and purple, blooming from late spring to summer.
botanical-name botanical name Allium
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height up to 6’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

When you hear Allium, you might think of the delicious garlic that makes everything in the kitchen taste better. And you would be right! However, we are going to talk about ornamental Allium in this case. 

There are many varieties of Alliums with wonderful, globelike flower heads. These striking perennials are late spring bloomers that can continue to bloom into summer. Their flowers come in cool shades of blue and purple. 

Taller varieties such as ‘Gladiator’ Allium make a great focal point in the garden. Mingling these with other bulbs will create a whimsical vibe. Smaller dwarf varieties add a lovely vertical accent to borders.

Bearded Iris

Close-up of blooming Bearded Irises in a sunny garden. Iris x germanica, commonly known as bearded iris, is a captivating perennial plant. Its flowers are distinctive and elegant, with broad, purple, petal-like falls and upright, white with a purple sheen standards.The "beard" refers to the fuzzy orange strip on the falls. The leaves are long, sword-like, and upright, emerging from the base of the plant.
These irises bring elegant, fragrant, and resilient beauty to the garden, multiplying easily.
botanical-name botanical name Iris x germanica
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height up to 30”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-10

Bearded irises are elegant and fragrant, adding a delicate beauty to the garden. Despite their delicate appearance, these perennials are quite hardy and easy to care for. They will multiply freely and make a great pass-along flower to share with friends and loved ones. 

Iris comes from the Greek word for rainbow, which is apt, as these beautiful flowers bloom in just about every color of the rainbow. There are tall, intermediate, and dwarf varieties that will each serve its purpose in your location of choice. 

Keep these bulbs dry through the winter, but ensure they stay consistently moist in spring. Well-draining soil is imperative for avoiding bulb rot. Bearded irises are versatile in terms of exposure, thriving in both full sun and partial shade.

Camas Lily

Close-up of a flowering Camassia plant in a sunny garden. Camassia, commonly known as Camas Lily, is a striking perennial plant. Its tall, erect flower spikes are adorned with numerous star-shaped flowers in a shade of lavender.
This edible and ornamental plant thrives in gardens with little care, preferring moist soil and sun or partial shade.
botanical-name botanical name Camassia
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 8”-28”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

This relative of asparagus is edible as well as beautiful. Camas lilies are native to North America, where Native American peoples once widely cultivated them as a food source. While they are not as prevalent in the wild currently, they can still be found in gardens and obtained relatively easily. 

Camas lilies prefer moist soil and perform well in full sun or partial shade. Outside of those requirements, these are very easy plants to cultivate and naturalize. In spring, stalks rise up from the bulbs and bear white or blue flower clusters. 

These spring ephemerals disappear for the season as soon as the weather warms up, leaving no trace that they existed. There is no other work to be done. The plants will multiply underground and return in the spring to bloom again.

Common Bluebell

Close-up of a flowering Hyacinthoides non-scripta plant against a blurred green background. Hyacinthoides non-scripta, commonly known as bluebell, is a graceful bulbous perennial. Its flowers are a hallmark of spring, featuring pendulous, bell-shaped blooms that hang in clusters along elegant stems. The flowers are blue, creating serene woodland displays. The leaves are slender, lance-shaped, and arch gracefully, growing in a basal rosette.
The enchanting bell-shaped flowers of common bluebells thrive in partial shade conditions.
botanical-name botanical name Hyacinthoides non-scripta
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade
height height 12”-18”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Here’s an enchanting species of naturalizing fall bulbs to try. The wonderful, pendulous, bell-shaped blooms of the common bluebell are straight out of a fairy story. These tiny, brilliant blue flowers appear in spring, smelling sweet and nodding to one side of their stems. 

Native to the British Isles, bluebells have excellent cold tolerance. They are a great midground plant and make wonderful cut flowers as well. If planted in partial shade, they will naturalize vigorously. 

Once these plants are established, they require little to no care. Bulbs can be divided if you prefer or left to form large colonies. A drift of common bluebells is a real delight. Mix these in with your daffodils for a stunning color combination. 


Close-up of a flowering Crocus plant in a sunny garden. The plant produces cup-shaped flowers with three inner and three outer petals that are purple in color. The leaves are grass-like and slender, emerging from the base of the plant.
These small perennials resist wildlife munching.
botanical-name botanical name Crocus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2”- 5”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Crocuses are some of the earliest flowers of the year. It is common to see these pretty flowers pushing up through the snow to tell us that spring is just around the corner. These tiny plants are shockingly sturdy despite their size. 

If you’re looking for easy-care naturalizing fall bulbs impervious to being munched on by wildlife, crocuses are just the plants for the job. Deer leave them alone. Rabbits, squirrels, and the like will also steer clear of these flowers, but they are an important early source of food for pollinators

Give your crocuses a spot with well-draining soil and full sun. They need all the sun they can get since they sprout while the temperatures are still quite low. Avoid planting them in soggy or compacted soil, as this will rot your bulbs. 

Crown Imperial 

Close-up of Fritillaria Imperialis flowering plants in a sunny garden. Fritillaria imperialis, commonly known as crown imperial, is a striking bulbous perennial plant. Its flowers are unique and captivating, with a crown-like arrangement of bell-shaped blooms hanging from a central stem. The flowers are bright orange, creating a bold and regal appearance.The leaves are large, lance-shaped, and arranged in whorls along the stem.
This perennial creates vibrant spring focal points with tall stems and distinctive ‘crowned’ pendulous blossoms in red, yellow, and orange.
botanical-name botanical name Fritillaria imperialis
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

For warm colors in the spring garden, crown imperials are statement-making plants. Growing up to 3’ tall, their stems are topped with a ‘crown’ of pendulous blossoms in shades of red, yellow, and, my personal favorite, orange. 

Crown imperials are not as well known as some of the others on this list, but they certainly ought to be. They make a wonderful focal point in the garden and have a very striking and unique appearance. 

Plant these naturalizing fall bulbs in early autumn and at a slight angle. The top of the bulb has a small indentation, which, if planted upright, can cause water to pool and the bulb to rot. Give crown imperial bulbs a thick layer of protective mulch before the ground freezes. 


Close-up of blooming daffodils in a sunny garden. Narcissus, commonly known as daffodil, is a perennial bulbous plant renowned for its iconic spring blooms. Its flowers feature a central trumpet-shaped corona surrounded by six petal-like tepals, creating a distinctive and vibrant appearance. The petals are of a delicate cream shade, and the central crown is a bright yellow. The leaves are long, strap-like, and emerge from the base of the plant.
This often-fragrant bulbous perennial offers classic spring beauty with vibrant white, yellow, and orange blooms.
botanical-name botanical name Narcissus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 18”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Daffodils are one of the most well-known and classic naturalizing bulbs of spring. These cheerful and distinctive blooms come in shades of white, yellow, and orange, occasionally combining two colors. Some varieties are also quite fragrant. 

With as many as 32,000 cultivars, it is easy to find a variety that suits your garden. Daffodils are easy to care for and naturalize easily if provided with the right conditions.

Give these flowers plenty of sunlight, and plant generously, as many varieties only produce a single bloom per bulb. Keep the soil moist but not soggy, and give your bulbs a healthy layer of mulch to protect against any early spring temperature fluctuations. 

Grape Hyacinth

Close-up of a flowering Muscari armeniacum plant in a sunny garden. Muscari armeniacum, commonly known as grape hyacinth, is a charming bulbous perennial. Its flowers are clustered in dense spikes resembling small grape clusters, with each individual flower having a bell-like shape. The flowers come in the shade of deep blue. The leaves are narrow, strap-like, and emerge from the base of the plant.
This flower emerges in spring with grasslike leaves and bell-shaped, sweetly fragrant blue-violet clusters on multiple stems.
botanical-name botanical name Muscari armeniacum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 6”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Grape hyacinths are small plants that pop up in spring with long, flexible, grasslike leaves. Each plant produces two to four stems topped with small, blue-violet flower clusters. 

The flowers are tiny and bell-shaped, with a fine white band around the opening. They open sequentially from bottom to top and produce a sweet, fresh fragrance. While they are small, they make great cut flowers.

These naturalizing fall bulbs spread easily, both by bulbs and self-seeding. They mix well with other spring flowers and make a wonderful border, as they remain one of the shorter plants in the garden.


Close-up of a flower bed with blooming Hyacinthus in a garden. Hyacinthus, commonly known as hyacinth, is a fragrant bulbous perennial cherished for its colorful and aromatic blooms. Its flowers are densely packed in a spike-like raceme, with each individual flower having a distinctive purple bell shape and growing closely together. The leaves are broad, strap-like, and emerge from the base of the plant.
This fragrant spring-blooming perennial has a bold appearance with waxy, jasmine-like flowers in various colors.
botanical-name botanical name Hyacinthus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 6”-10”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

For maximum fragrance, no other bulbous perennial stacks up to the hyacinth. The large cluster of waxy flowers produced by this plant has a very strong perfume with similar characteristics to jasmine flowers.

In addition to their fragrance, hyacinth flowers are also bold in appearance. With only one to two flower spikes per bulb, the inflorescences are large compared to the size of the plant. They come in shades of white, pink, purple, and blue and make excellent cut flowers.

Hyacinths are very easy to grow and have a moderate growth rate. They prefer moist but well-draining soil and a slightly acidic pH level, and they can tolerate full sun or partial shade. After blooming, deadhead your hyacinths, but leave the leaves intact to help the bulb store energy for the following season. 

Lucille’s Glory-of-the-Snow

Top view, close-up of a flowering plant "Scilla luciliae" in the garden. Scilla luciliae, commonly known as Lucile's glory-of-the-snow, is a perennial plant celebration for its early spring blooms. It showcases vibrant star-shaped flowers in shades of blue and white, arranged in small clusters atop sturdy stems. The leaves are slender, strap-like, and emerge from the base of the plant, forming a rosette.
This plant is self-spreading and sprouts early, showcasing blue-violet blooms attractive to pollinators.
botanical-name botanical name Scilla luciliae 
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3”- 6”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

This relative of asparagus is pretty but poisonous, so don’t add it to your list of edible plants. As their name implies, these are some of the earliest plants to sprout, often appearing before the snow melts. In its native environment, Lucille’s glory-of-the-snow can be found in meadows and fields. 

This plant spreads and naturalizes easily, as well as self-seeding, so it creates a colony quickly. Pollinators are attracted to the small blue-violet blooms, making them good cut flowers. 

Lucille’s glory-of-the-snow is small and clump forming. A large planting will quickly develop into a blanket of lovely blue flowers. They like a neutral soil pH and good drainage. Plant these bulbs in dense, rich soil and full to partial sun for best results. 

Netted Iris

Close-up of a flowering plant Iris reticulata in the garden. Iris reticulata, commonly known as reticulated iris, is a charming perennial plant with distinctive features. Its flowers are known for their striking colors, including shades of blue, purple, and occasionally yellow, with intricate patterns on the petals. Each bloom has three larger outer petals, called falls, and three smaller inner petals, called standards. The leaves are narrow, linear, and often slightly grayish in color, arising from the base of the plant.
It stands out with blue-violet flowers with a distinctive petal formation and reproduces well through division.
botanical-name botanical name Iris reticulata
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 8”-16”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Less flamboyant than their bearded cousins, netted irises are smaller and have a quiet elegance about them. Dwarf varieties will hit maximum height at around eight inches tall, while full-sized cultivars may be between one and two feet tall. They prefer full sun but will tolerate partial shade as well. 

The small size of this bulbous perennial makes it great for borders or to line a walkway. As spring bloomers go, netted irises’ foliage endures longer than most of the plants on this list. After the flowers are spent, the seeds can be harvested to plant, but they reproduce better by division. 

The flowers on this species are blue-violet with yellow accents. They have a lovely, unique petal formation that sets them apart and renders them recognizable among other flowers of its type. Well-drained, neutral to alkaline soil will keep netted irises happiest. 

Siberian Squill

Close-up of a blooming Scilla siberica in a garden. Scilla siberica, commonly known as Siberian squill, is a perennial plant admired for its vibrant spring display. It features nodding, bell-shaped flowers that cluster along erect stems, creating a striking blue carpet. The leaves are slender, linear, and slightly glossy, growing in basal rosettes at the base of the plant.
This perennial naturalizes quickly with pretty pale blue flowers, thriving in various soil conditions.
botanical-name botanical name Scilla siberica
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3”- 6”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-8

This Russian native is perhaps the most familiar of the scilla species. The reason for this is very likely because of how well and how quickly it naturalizes. Although they are small plants, what they lack in height, they make up for by spreading out and producing plenty of pretty, pale blue flowers. 

Siberian squill is not picky about soil type as long as its roots don’t stay wet. Slightly acidic soil will make it happiest. It is very cold tolerant and can even survive through a late frost, blooming reliably between March and May. 

In terms of sunlight, they tolerate a wide range. Planting them under a deciduous tree will result in the foliage lasting longer. They will get the sun they need to bloom before the tree gets its leaves back, and then the shade created when leaves come will keep the sun from scorching the leaves.


Close-up of blooming Galanthus in a garden with dry brown leaves. Galanthus, commonly known as snowdrops, is a genus of bulbous perennial plants. Snowdrops have small, white, bell-shaped flowers that hang from slender stalks. Each flower consists of three outer petals and three smaller inner petals, creating a delicate and charming appearance. The leaves are narrow, green, and strap-like, emerging from the base of the plant.
This early-blooming perennial prefers cold weather and shade. It needs division to prevent overcrowding.
botanical-name botanical name Galanthus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3”- 6”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-7

This dainty January birth flower is another very early bloomer and is often seen peeking up from under a blanket of snow in late winter. Snowdrops love cold weather, so sadly, if you live south of Zone 7, these are unlikely to thrive in your garden.

It is best to plant these bulbs while they are still in the green or before they dry out. Their bulb clumps can become quite dense, so digging them up every few years and dividing them will keep your snowdrops from crowding each other. 

Snowdrops love shady areas in the summer, so this is another type of bulb that is best planted beneath a deciduous tree. Their small size makes them a wonderful border or path edge.

Spanish Bluebell

Close-up of flowering Hyacinthoides hispanica, commonly known as Spanish bluebell, is a perennial plant notable for its elegant appearance. It produces graceful, bell-shaped flowers that cluster along sturdy stems in a shade of blue. The leaves are strap-like and glossy, emerging from the base of the plant.
This robust perennial with distinctive blue flowers thrives in diverse conditions, making it versatile for filling spaces in beds.
botanical-name botanical name Hyacinthoides hispanica
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to full shade
height height 18”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Although these petite blue flowering plants strongly resemble the common bluebell, they are a different species within the same genus. This is a very reliable, heavy bloomer that is quite easy to care for. 

Spanish bluebell is very flexible in terms of soil composition and pH. It will prefer a moist but well-drained environment. However, it can be surprisingly drought-tolerant. If you need a small plant to fill in space in a bed, this is perfect for the job. 

Full sun to shade are all acceptable light levels for Spanish bluebells. Pests and diseases are rarely an issue, and deer leave this plant alone


Close-up of a flower bed with blooming tulips in a sunny garden. Tulips are graceful, bulbous perennials known for their showy flowers. These flowers are bright pink-purple and red with white edges. Each flower consists of six petal-like tepals. The leaves are long, narrow, and typically emerge from the base of the stem.
This spring-blooming perennial is well-known for its symbolic value and offers a variety of warm colors.
botanical-name botanical name Tulipa
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 6”- 2’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-7

Another highly recognizable and popular bulbous perennial is the lovely tulip. Made famous by the Dutch, tulips symbolize deep and perfect love.

Moat tulips come in warm shades, although purple is not an uncommon color for these flowers. There are a few varieties that have partially or completely green petals. 

Tulips have smooth, attractive foliage that starts to sprout in late winter to early spring. They are very cold-tolerant, and late snow is unlikely to harm them, although it may slow their growth. The perennial nature of tulips is best experienced in colder climates. 

In warmer climates, give your tulips some respite from the afternoon sun. In cooler climates, do the opposite, ensuring your plants get as much sun as possible. A strong wind can damage taller varieties, and they may need to be given some protection. 

Virginia Spring Beauty

Close-up of blooming Claytonia virginica, also called Virginia spring beauty, is a charming perennial plant. It produces delicate, five-petaled flowers in shades of pink or white, arranged in loose clusters at the top of slender stems. Its leaves are smooth, lance-shaped, and appear in a basal rosette.
This native wildflower easily naturalizes in meadows.
botanical-name botanical name Claytonia virginica
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial shade
height height 6”- 10”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Virginia Spring Beauty is a member of the purslane family and a North American native wildflower. Commonly found growing wild in meadows, this small flowering perennial naturalizes easily both by bulbs and self-seeding. 

This plant prefers rich, moist, well-draining soil and will tolerate full sun but will last longer if given partial shade in the afternoon. After the seed pods mature, the plant dies back for the remainder of the year.

Keep this in mind when planting. Mixing it with other plants that don’t die back will keep the space from looking bare. 

The corms of this plant are edible and have a chestnut-like flavor, but they are time-consuming to harvest and quite small. The flowers are small and pink and borne atop thin stems in small clusters. 

Winter Aconite

Eranthis hyemalis, commonly known as winter aconite, is a petite perennial plant. The plant forms upright short stems with lobed and deeply dissected leaves forming a basal rosette. The flowers are bright yellow, cup-shaped, surrounded by green bracts with a green fringe.
This perennial is an early spring bloomer with yellow flowers and green bracts.
botanical-name botanical name Eranthis hyemalis
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3”- 6”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-7

This relative of the buttercup family is one of the earliest spring bloomers you can plant. They typically start to appear just before the snowdrops. Elaborate green bracts back single, buttery yellow flowers, which open to reveal a cluster of golden, pollen-tipped stamens.

Winter aconite performs best in full sun, especially in colder climates. In warmer climates, some afternoon shade will keep them blooming longer. These small plants make a wonderful border or ground cover and naturalize freely. 

Plant the bulbs while they are still fresh, or rehydrate them beforehand. They prefer rich, well-drained, but moist soil. If this plant becomes overcrowded, dig up the bulbs every few years to thin them out and prevent them from taking over the garden. 

Final Thoughts

Plant these naturalizing bulbs in the fall for a beautiful start to next year’s gardening season. Many of these plants are the first to reemerge after the winter dormancy, acting as harbingers of a new spring season. The best part of these plants is that they will return, year after year, drifting about the garden and increasing the beauty of the landscape with their lovely flowers. 

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