Late September is the perfect time to plant bulbs for early spring blooms. Bulbs (a term that generally also includes corms, tubers and rhizomes) should be planted before the first hard freeze of the season in well draining soil. Check out the CSU Extension Fall-Planted Bulbs and Corms fact sheet for more information on how and when to plant.
While many of the bulbs available to gardeners are non-native, there are quite a few species of plants in the Iris and Lily families that are native to the Rocky Mountain region. There are about thirty species of irises native to North America, all of which are beardless varieties as opposed to the bigger and more commonly seen bearded iris. Native varieties such as Iris missouriensis , or mountain iris, and Erythronium grandiflorum, or snow lily, can be found in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Even non-native bulbs in these plant families can provide important resources for our native wildlife. Early spring bloomers are especially important because they provide nectar and pollen to pollinators before many of their other food sources are available. Crocuses, hyacinths, fritillaria and kniphofia (or torch lily) are all beneficial for our local bees and other pollinators.