Welcome to the

Pith   Vigor



the Book



Hey There! I’m Rochelle Greayer. I’m a garden designer on TV and IRL. I’m also an author and entrepreneur who thinks she can save the world by teaching everyone a little something about landscape design.



REgister now!

A Free Master Class




Join the Course Today!

Mix & match plants like a pro!

3 More Beautiful Plant Pairings for Fall Blooming Bulbs


In the first issue of PITH + VIGOR,  Joanne Neale shared four great planting combos for fall-blooming bulbs – but some of the combos hit the cutting room floor.  They were pretty great – but we just didn’t have the space to print them all, so here are the other thre, plus a recommendation for serious bulb-o-files – for even more inspiration.

Pairings for Fall- Blooming True Crocus (USDA Zone 4-6)

Fall Bulbs - Beautiful plant parings - fall bulbs Aster lateriflorus + Allium thunbergii + Sedum seiboldii
Fall Bulbs - plant parings for autumn flowering bulbs
Plant parings for Fall Blooming bulbs - Autumn crocus planted in a lawn.

Crocus speciosus + Sedum cauticola

Crocus speciosus is indeed a relative of the common spring crocus (you know, the one that looks great until the squirrels eat the flowers), with both flowers and foliage similar in appearance. Most autumn crocuses come from Mediterranean climates and are only hardy in Zones 7–9, but those from the European continent can survive in Zone 5.

The most widely available is Crocus speciosus (very large violet flowers, there is also a white form). Also Zone 5-hardy are c. nudiflorus (very large violet, tolerates moist soil and naturalizes in thin grass), c. kotchyanus (purple with a gold throat)  and  the pale lilac c. pulchellus (October bloom with spring foliage; a white-flowered form is ‘Michael Hoog’).

If you garden in Zone 6, try c. goulimyi (lilac-blue, fragrant) and c. laevigatus ‘Fontenayi’ (white brushed with lilac, early winter). Two pure white-flowered varieties are c. hadriaticus “Annabelleand c. niveus. Also hardy in Zone 6 is the saffron crocus, c. sativus (purple-striped blooms) and C. cartwrightianus whose stamens can also be used as saffron.  Hardy to Zone 4 is c. banaticus (the so-called “iris-flowered crocus”) which tolerates damp soils and has very broad leaves that appear in spring rather than fall (lilac to purple).

Since most crocus flowers only open in the sun (exceptions being c. banaticus and c. pulchellus), select a site with good sun exposure. Plant bulbs in late August or early September about 3 inches deep in humus-rich soil that is well-drained.

By planting among low groundcovers such as Sedum cauticola, you will eliminate the damage caused by mud splashing onto the blossoms from fall rains. They are also a fantastic surprise if planted in lawns and allowed to naturalize. Be sure not to mow the foliage, which must persist until dieback to allow the bulb to complete its life cycle; later-blooming varieties such as c. goulimyi,  c. laevigatus ‘Fontenayi’ and c. niveus are best for this use.

Pairings for Colchicum (USDA Zone 4/5-9)


Athyrium ‘Ghost’ + Colchicum + Anemone japonica

Commonly called the “autumn crocus,” this is actually not a crocus at all as its flowers have six stamens, while the true crocus’ has three. Botanically, the crocus belongs to the Iris family (Iridaceae), while colchicum is a member of the lily family (Liliaceae). Another important difference is foliage. The true crocus’ is fine and grassy,  while colchicum’s is more like hosta leaves but which tend to dieback badly in June (turning yellow and being prone to snails and slugs).  Plant late-appearing perennials like Platycodon (balloon-flower) in front of them to camouflage.

Wonderful blooming companions for colchicum are tricyrtis (toad lily) and the fall-blooming Anemone japonica, as well as ferns such as Athyrium “Ghost”.

Each corm produces four to six flowers ranging from 4-12 inches high. With the exception of the Zone 6 c. “Violet Queen,” all are hardy into Zone 5 (Zone 4 with protection). The first to bloom is colchicum autumnale (1–2 inch lilac-pink flowers). There is a double form, c. autumnale “Pleniflorum”, a white form, “Album” and a double white, “Alboplenum”. A bit later is the much larger-flowered colchicum speciosum (3 inch raspberry-tinged purple-pink), which also has a white cultivar, c. speciosum “Album”. Other c. speciosum cultivars worth growing are “The Giant” (10–12 inch high rosy-lilac flowers with a white center) and “Waterlily” (6-8 inches pinkish-purple to mauve, and it looks like—what else—a water-lily).

Colchicum should be planted in late summer in any well-drained, moisture-retentive soil in sun to partial shade. It is important to plant as soon as possible after receiving your plants, and the shoulder of the corm—where it begins to broaden—should be set at soil level. All parts of colchicum are poisonous to critters that may be tempted to eat them.

Pairings for Allium thunbergii

Aster lateriflorus + Allium thunbergii + Sedum seiboldii Aster lateriflorus + Allium thunbergii + Sedum seiboldii

Sharing the amaryllis family with sternbergia and lycoris is Allium thunbergii, an ornamental onion from Japan. The select cultivar “Ozawa” reaches a maximum height of 10 inches, perfect for a rock garden setting.

From September into October, 1-2 inch heads of bright violet flowers top the attractive, narrow, thread-like foliage. Its flowers are impervious to frost and snow.

In later fall the leaves will turn tawny orange, which is striking in a mass planting. I love it with Aster lateriflorus “Lady in Black” as a background. The dark foliage of the aster with its cloud of tiny white flowers is a perfect foil for the star-like blooms of the allium. Another good companion to add to this tableau is the October Daphne, Sedum sieboldii.

Suitable for full sun to partial shade, this allium is another low maintenance beauty, requiring only average welldrained soil. The bulbs will rot in damp conditions.

For True Bulbophiles: Two More Challenging Selections

A bit more tender, expensive, difficult to grow, or hard to find, these autumn bloomer bulbs are worth the challenge.  Try planting in containers (and bringing them into a protected garage or basement) if they are beyond your zone.

More Fall Bulb parings - Galanthus elwesii var. monostictus 'H. Purcell'


A 6 inch tall snowdrop native to Turkey, blooms in November and December, leaves emerge with flowers. Full sun to partial shade (USDA Zone 6).

More Fall Bulb pairings - rhodophiala bifida hill country red

RHODOPHIALA BIFIDA (Oxblood Lily – Comes in both Red and Pink )

Tall (15 inch) amaryllis relatives from Uruguay and Argentina, bloom in late summer-early fall on leafless stems; foliage appears after bloom. Prefer alkaline soils. Full sun (USDA Zone 7).

images: Proven Winners, IamNotUnique by CC  plant delights, Tim Waters by CC, germana by cc, benjamin golub, Meneerke bloem by CC.  pris.sears (CC by-NC-SA 2.0), Todd Boland With Permission, jacki-dee (CC by-NC-SA 2.0)

Related Posts:

Fall Blooming Bulbs – 3 Ideas for Exciting Autumn Plant Pairings

After Labor Day Whites – Autumn Blooming Plants for A White Garden

The Beautiful Berry – 9 Types of Berries For Fall & Winter Florals

Plant Finder

Most of these bulbs can be found at Odyssey Bulbs.

Fall bulbs - Three more beautiful plant pairings. sedum and autumn crocus

Fall Bulbs - Beautiful plant parings - fall bulbs Aster lateriflorus + Allium thunbergii + Sedum seiboldii

Fall bulbs - Three more beautiful plant pairings for autumn crocus

Spread the love

REgister now!

A Free Master Class



Do you Need a
Garden Makeover?

Join my Free Webinar Today!

- Learn my 7-step system to design and build a stunning garden anywhere in the world.

- The 5 mistakes EVERYONE makes when creating a garden. (save yourself time, money, and headaches and get much better results!)

- How to work directly with me (but at a DIY price!) to design and create YOUR own gorgeous garden. 


  1. Kathi says:

    Thanks for finally writing about >Match Making with Fall Bulbs (Bonus!) |
    Pith + Vigor <Liked it!

join the FrEE 10-day garden Design challenge

Your Garden will look waaayyy better in less than 2 weeks - Promise!

in the weeds?

Sign me up