I recently received a question from a reader inquiring about miniature bulbs to add to a small garden space. What a great question! There are so many bulbs with dwarf or small plant sizes worth mentioning because while the plant might be short, there is a lot of colors to be found.
One way to increase color in a small garden space is by layering bulbs. Miniature bulbs lend themselves well to this because they don’t take up as much space. Remember to plant bulbs 2-3 times deeper than the bulb is tall.
Now on to the plants!
If you like the look of Alliums there is a miniature variety that only grows to 8″ tall but still has the round globed cluster of star shape flowers you expect from an Allium. It’s called Allium karataviense and is hardy to Zone 4. Flowers are a soft pale pink.
blooms for 6-8 weeks in late winter to mid spring and is hardy to zone 6. These Anemones are self-seeding and look great naturalized in the garden. There are two miniature Anemone choices; ‘Radar’, a magenta blooming cultivar with white centers and ‘White Splendor’, an especially free flowering white cultivar with fern-like foliage; both growing to 5″ high.
is a great consideration for miniature bulb selections as most grow to only 3 or 4 inches tall. I tend to tuck crocus bulbs all throughout my garden border in amongst the other plants. ‘Snow Bunting’ is a late winter/early spring blooming crocus with white flowers, yellow base and purple streaks. Hardy zones 3-8. Crocus sieberi is only 2-3″ tall and easy to grow….hardy zones 3-8. Crocus tournefortii has leaves that appear in autumn and flowers that follow in late winter. This variety of Crocus needs a warm sunny spot but will only grow 2-3″. Crocus vernus also grows 2-3″ and ‘Jeanne d’Arc’ cultivar will give you large white flowers in early spring.
blooms late winter also and has pale pink flowers and rounded, marked foliage. It grows best in sheltered, shady sites and would work well under shrubs or large plants. ‘Album’ is a white cultivar and ‘Pewter Maurice Dryden’ has silvery leaves that are very distinctive and pink-tinged flowers. The cyclamen grow 2-3″ so are perfect for a miniature garden. These are hardy in zones 5-9.
is another small bulb that naturalizes and self-spreads well. Bright yellow flowers are collared in ruffled green leaves and only grow about 3″ tall making aconite great to tuck in with other plants in the garden. Winter aconite is hardy in zones 4-9 and prefers full sun to light shade. It may be a miniature bulb, but it is one of the first bulbs to bloom, often in mid-winter.
grows to 4″ tall with dainty looking, fragrant flowers. Also known as Snowdrops, these small, white flowering bulbs bloom in very early spring, or late winter. Plant snowdrops in sun or part shade and they will multiply easily as well.
is a dwarf Iris form that is hardy to zone 5 and grows 4″ x 2″. This miniature Iris species has bright yellow fragrant flowers. Iris reticulata is hardy to zone 6 and has several miniature form cultivars to choose from. ‘George’ is to 6″ with fragrant, tri-colored flowers in purple with white and yellow accents. ‘Joyce’ is to 4″ with sky blue flowers and orange accents. ‘Pauline’ is to 5″ with a sweet-scent.
will work well in a miniature garden as they grow 4″ tall and 2″ wide. Grape hyacinths have bright blue blooms that appear early to mid-spring and look great in mass plantings. Native to Turkey these small bulbs tolerate winters even in zone 2.
Many daffodils have miniature or dwarf cultivars that mimic the larger varieties. All are hardy in zones 3-9 unless otherwise specified.
What I love about bulbs is that I can fill my garden to full, and then tuck in a bunch of early spring blooming bulbs that will fill my garden with color before my other plants are just barely getting started!