Early Bloomers for a Gorgeous Garden
Whether you’re talking early spring or early summer, early blooming bulbs and perennials are vital when you want to extend the flowering season or fill in gaps. If you’ve ordered from Easy to Grow Bulbs before (Thank you! Come again!), you know that many of our plants are sold as bulbs or bare root plants, but you may not be aware that many are also sold as potted plants.
This means they come to you already rooted in a 2–3” deep pot and ready to go into your garden! Fully rooted starter plants give you a jump on the season, and who doesn’t want that? Let’s take a look at some season-extending blooms, how to use them to create beautiful combos, and some practical tips to keep everything healthy and thriving.
What plants are we talking about here?
These early bloomers offer up a brilliant range of sizes, colors, forms, and textures—meaning they are the stuff designers dream of. Now, you might not consider yourself a designer, but you’ll achieve Design Star status in no time when you think about how each plant’s form can contrast with a different type of form. A great example is to pair a large or bold flower form (peonies, iris) with smaller flowers or florets (alliums, salvia, coreopsis)—and don’t forget non-flowering partners like trees, shrubs, and ornamental grasses!
- Reblooming bearded iris: These beauties are true workhorses in the garden, first blooming in early spring, then reliably again later in the summer or early fall. And even when they’re not in bloom, the strong upright foliage adds texture and form. Pair them with other spring bloomers like tulips, daylilies, salvia, and delphiniums—and with chrysanthemums later in the fall!
- Clematis: The vining nature of clematis makes them an ideal companion for other plants like roses, alliums, and penstemon, as well as a wide range of trees and shrubs. Clematis often blooms in June/July, and sometimes again in the fall—but be patient! Sometimes clematis takes its time to hit its stride, but the payback is well worth it.
- Delphinium: The darlings of the cottage garden world, delphiniums bloom in late spring/early summer and are most often used in the back of the border because of their tall and upright growth. Pair them with other tall border plants like sunflowers, hollyhock, or tall ornamental grasses to help support their stems, or if you’re using stakes or support rings, they’ll look great with echinacea, phlox, and foxgloves.
- Hollyhock: Another back-of-the-border cottage garden favorite, hollyhocks are some of the tallest girls in the class, growing up to 6’ tall and with large 4–5” blooms. They’ll first appear in early to mid-summer, depending on your climate, and grow well with daisies, bee balm, coreopsis, and hydrangeas.
- Peony: These late spring/early summer bloomers provide all the ruffly romance you can stand in the most luscious shades imaginable. Plant them among roses, bearded iris, alliums, and columbines for an unforgettable flower show—but give them some room! Peonies tend to clump out over the years, and you definitely don’t want to crowd them in.
- Foxglove: Here’s another early summer bloomer that provides that tall, vertical element in the garden! Foxgloves also tend to be fairly critter resistant while also being loved by pollinators, and will reseed from year to year. Their bell-shaped flowers look smashing with finer allium blooms, ferns, roses, and poppies.
- Bleeding heart: The heart-shaped blooms of bleeding heart are a charming favorite in traditional gardens. Blooming in late spring to early summer, this shade-lover blends beautifully with ferns, hostas, coral bells, and astilbe. The arching branches create a lovely contrast to their companion plants’ more upright growth.
Planting Tip: All of these plants do well in container plantings as well as in-ground plantings if given the properly-sized container.
Tips for Using Rooted Plants
If you’ve never ordered potted and rooted plants from us before, here are a few tips so you know what to expect and how to handle them.
- Some of our rooted plants may be shipped without the pot—we do this to reduce waste, but never fear! It’s secure and safe. We know how to pack ‘em. But if you receive one that is shipped without a pot, we’ll have planting and care instructions for you so you know exactly what to do first. Katie I guessed at that because I didn’t find any more info on this.
- Foliage may be pinched back. This is to ensure safe travels so the plants arrive to you without bent and broken stems and leaves.
- Unpack your potted/rooted plant promptly. Inspect it and give it a drink if necessary and place it in bright indirect light.
- Harden off if necessary. You know how you harden off seedlings before putting them outside? Same is true for your young, rooted plants. Water as needed, and gradually move them into brighter light and, eventually, outdoors into full sun. Immediately throwing them out into the garden could shock your plant and produce some very undesirable results.
- Transplant gently. When it’s time to transplant, carefully remove the plant from its shipping container and plant in your garden or other ornamental container.
- Katie Elzer-Peters