Purple flowers with bulbs

Earliest Spring Blooming Bulbs

Gardening should not be a competitive sport, but there is, nevertheless, a certain satisfaction in being first — and in spring, when the world (and the neighborhood) longs for bright color, having the very first spring-flowering bulbs in bloom elevates a gardener’s status from good neighbor to horticultural hero.

The garden is transformed when spring-flowering bulbs come into bloom. The days may still be nippy, but cool spring temperatures are just right for daffodils, crocus, tulips, and other spring-flowering bulbs. Here is a quick look at some of the earliest bulbs to bloom. Plant them in fall, and on a chilly day in spring, bundle up and enjoy the show. Your neighbors will thank you.

Snowdrops

— Snowdrops really don’t care about the weather. These very early blooming bulbs, with pretty white flowers dangling on delicate stems, will push right up through the snow. If it’s too cold to enjoy them for long in the garden, pick a few flowers for a little vase indoors. They’ll warm you right up.

Crocus

— A bright little pool of crocus is one of the most cheering signs of spring. ‘Vanguard’ is among the earliest to bloom; pretty ‘Blue Pearl’ snow crocus are also especially early. Giant Crocus vernus cultivars such as ‘Yellow Mammoth’, ‘Grand Maitre’, and the dapper, striped ‘Pickwick’) bloom a little later but still long before most other bulbs. Plant them by the dozens.

Iris

— Elegant miniature Iris reticulata are spring sophisticates. These showy little iris draw you out into the garden to appreciate their perfect form and rich color. Intense, deep blue ‘Harmony’ and pale blue ‘Cantab’ both have a bright yellow spot. They grow only a few inches tall; plant lots of them along the front walk, where you can’t miss them as you come and go.

Daffodils

— The first bright yellow daffodil acclaim the certain triumph of spring. Golden yellow ‘Peeping Tom’ blooms ahead of the pack; its long trumpet and slightly reflexed petals give it an upswept look. ‘February Gold’ is another fine early daffodil, with elegant, long-lasting flowers. The bold, ruffled yellow trumpets of ‘Dutch Master’ light up the landscape.

Tulips

— Most tulips come into bloom after the daffodils are already well into their show, but there are some exceptions. Some species tulips, and tulips in the Fosteriana and Kaufmanniana groups, are a little bit precocious. To secure the first tulip blooms on the block, plant ‘Juan’, ‘Orange Emperor’, or the bright pink species tulip ‘Humilis Helena’. Look for Single Early tulips like the yellow and red ‘Mickey Mouse’ or the heirloom cultivar ‘Keizerskroon’. It’s been around since 1750, and it’s still a winner.

Unusual flower bulbs for your garden and how to plant them

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Don’t get me wrong, I like tulips and daffodils. Their cheery faces usher in spring with a rush of color and enthusiasm, and like most gardeners, I welcome them with open arms. But, I also like to include more unusual flower bulbs in my garden, too; ones that you don’t find on every corner. These exceptional beauties herald spring in a very different way than a riot of bright yellow daffodils. Instead, these unique spring-flowering bulbs offer their uncommon beauty in a way that’s both subtle and curious.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to several of the unusual flower bulbs that call my garden home. All of them are fully hardy here in my Pennsylvania landscape and take quite nicely to average garden soil. Best planted in the fall, these unusual flower bulbs settle in for a long winter’s nap before popping up out of the soil the following spring to produce their gorgeous blooms. Most of these bulbs have lived in my garden for many years, and every year their colonies grow, with each bulb producing off-sets that help the plants spread.

Unusual flowering bulbs, like this Scilla siberica, are easy to plant in the autumn, especially with the right tools.

How to plant flower bulbs

Before we get to the introductions, I’d like to quickly share the technique I use to plant all of my spring-blooming bulbs. I plant hundreds of bulbs every fall, and I used to do it by hand, digging each individual hole with a trowel before dropping the bulb into it. But I’ve since come to appreciate the power and prowess of using a bulb auger to do the job.

These cool tools are basically giant drill bits that attach to your corded or cordless power drill. There are long-shafted bulb augers you can use from a standing position and short-shafted bulb augers meant to be used at ground level. I’ve used (and loved!) both types and highly recommend them. I used to be able to plant about 50 bulbs in two hours by hand, but with a bulb auger, I can plant over 200 bulbs in about an hour, especially in areas where the soil is relatively soft.

Here’s a useful video of how a bulb auger works, if you’d like to see one in action.

There are also a few other bulb-planting tools that I’ve found quite useful over the years, if you don’t have a drill or aren’t interested in hauling one outdoors every autumn. This cool stand-up bulb planter works really well, as does this all-steel bulb planter. Both are stepped down into the soil and then pulled back out again to remove a core of earth. The bulb is then dropped into the waiting hole, and as you create the next hole, the core of soil is popped out of the top of the tool head. It can then be used to fill in the empty bulb hole. It’s a bit more work than using an auger, but certainly requires less effort than hand-digging each and every bulb hole.

How deep to plant flower bulbs

As a general rule of thumb, no matter the size of the bulb you’re planting and whether they’re unusual flower bulbs or common ones, the perfect hole depth for each different bulb is about two-and-a-half times as deep as the bulb is tall. So for a two-inch-tall tulip bulb, the proper hole depth is about five inches deep. Don’t get too caught up in this rule, though, because bulbs are pretty flexible and the planting depth doesn’t need to be absolutely perfect for them to thrive.

My favorite unusual flower bulbs

Now, onto the fun part! Here are the unusual flower bulbs I think you’ll enjoy adding to your garden.

Also called the snakes-head fritillary, the checkered lily, or the guinea-hen flower, this sweet little bulb packs a lot of beauty in a small space.

Fritillaria meleagris

Standing just six to ten inches tall, Fritillary meleagris, or the checkered lily, may not be big, but it sure is gorgeous. The checkered petals on nodding flowers look terrific along walkways and on top of retaining walls where they can be seen close-up. They’re a deer-resistant bulb that the chipmunks don’t seem to bother either. This European native blooms from March until early May, and I absolutely adore it. You can find this great bulb for sale here.

Crown imperial fritillaria are drop-dead gorgeous. Their tropical good looks make them real standouts in the garden.

Fritillary imperialis

On the opposite end of the height spectrum from checkered lilies are another type of fritillary, Fritillary imperialis, or the crown imperial. These stunning and unusual flower bulbs reach a height of up to two feet! The hollow bulbs are rodent resistant and smell a bit skunky. But, once they’re in the ground, you’ll forget all about the bulb’s odor only to focus on the tropical good looks of this striking bulb flower. They sell many different colors of crown imperial, including the one you’ll find here.

Camassia quamash is a North American native bulb that once served as a food source for Native Americans. Now we enjoy these plants for their lovely blooms.

Camassia quamash

If you like to include North American native plants in your garden, then Camassia quamash is the bulb for you! Commonly called blue camas or quamash, these unusual flower bulbs do very well in sunny areas with well-drained, humus-rich soil, and they spread easily via seeds. Their tall, blue spikes of flowers look gorgeous in the spring and reach a height of fifteen to twenty inches tall. The bulbs were once used as a food source among native peoples. If you want to add some Camassia bulbs to your landscape, they have them here.

The brilliant blue of Chionodoxa is certainly a welcome sight in my garden every spring.

Chionodoxa lucilliae

These unusual flower bulbs are also known as glory-of-the-snow, and the name is well deserved. Though Chionodoxa lucilliae is a native of the Mediterranean region, it does very well in my garden, producing scores of brilliant blue flowers early every spring, often as the last bit of snow is melting. With a height of just three to five inches, this diminutive bulb knocks your socks off not with its size, but rather with its color and stalwart nature. There’s a pink cultivar, called ‘Violet Beauty’, that I adore almost as much as the blue. You’ll find glory-of-the-snow bulbs for sale here.

Winter aconite is the very first flower to bloom in my garden every year, often in February.

Eranthis hyemalis

Winter aconite ushers in spring like none of the other unusual flower bulbs I mention here. The yellow burst of color from Eranthis hyemalis appears very early, often in February, and is always the first thing blooming in my garden every year. Though winter aconite flowers are only three or four inches high, they make me giddy every time I spot their sunny yellow. A member of the buttercup family, this plant is deer resistant and thrives under a great deal of neglect (ask me, I know!). This is a good source for winter aconite bulbs, if you want to plant some, too.

Erythronium, or the trout lily, is a spring-time joy in my garden.

Erythronium americanum

Another North American native bulb well-worth growing, the trout lily, Erythronium americium, bears nodding yellow blossoms with recurved petals. Standing ten to twelve inches tall, each flower stalk produces multiple flowers. The thick, glossy green leaves are lovely even when the plant isn’t in bloom. Trout lilies bloom in April in my garden, and they definitely do best in dense to moderate shade. In late spring, after flowering ends, the foliage dies back and the plant shifts into dormancy. But don’t let that stop you from growing these unusual flower bulbs because the springtime show is spectacular. Here’s a source for this special little bulb.

Spanish bluebells are both underused and under appreciated. This lovely spring-blooming bulb is both tough as nails and sweet as pie.

Hyacinthoides hispanica

Spanish bluebells, Hyacinthoides hispanica, are such lovely harbingers of spring. Their straight stems of nodding, bell-shaped flowers stand above strap-like foliage for three to four weeks in the early spring. These unusual flower bulbs spread quickly, forming nice-sized clumps and colonies after just a few years time. This plant does best in woodland or shaded garden areas with soil rich in organic matter, though it will also grow in average garden soil without trouble. You can find top-sized bulbs for your own garden here.

Snowflake flowers are sweet and delicate, and their lateness may surprise you.

Leucojum aestivum

The snowflake flower, Leucojum aestivum, always surprises me. Unlike snowdrops (Galanthus sp.), these guys don’t come into flower until late spring. Their pendulous, skirt-like flowers bloom on foot-tall stalks, and they make a lovely accompaniment to late tulips and bleeding hearts. They’re so graceful looking and will naturalize quickly, especially if the bulbs are planted in drifts. Here’s a source for this lovely little bulb.

Puschkinia might be small, but they sure are mighty.

Puschkinia scilloides

Of all the many unusual flower bulbs out there, Pushkinia, or striped squill, are definitely near the top of my list. And, the bees love them almost as much as I do! Their five-inch-tall spikes of flowers appear in early spring, and each white petal is centered with a stripe of blue. That blue stripe serves as a runway for pollinators who take advantage of the early source of nectar and pollen. A spring-flowering bulb that’s best appreciated close-up, I recommend planting it at the edge of woodland garden, walkways, and stepping stone paths. I got my Puschkinia bulbs from here.

Of all the alliums on the market, drumstick allium is my personal favorite.

Allium sphaerocephalon

Yes, I love the giant blossoms of Globe Allium and the small, inch-wide flowers of caeruleum blue allium just like everyone else, but the drumstick allium (Allium sphaerocephalon) is my hands-down favorite. When the two-foot-tall, straight stalks float above the garden in late spring and early summer, they always catch my eye. The ball-shaped flower clusters are deep purple on top and sometimes have a greenish base that disappears as the flowers age. Plus, they’re deer and chipmunk proof, a must for my front garden. Here is a great place to source alliums.

Hardy cyclamen are a real treat in shady gardens.

Cyclamen cilicicum

Hardy cyclamen are always a surprise treat for gardeners, because unlike these other unusual flower bulbs, Cyclamen cilicicum blooms in the late summer and fall, rather than in the spring. Yep, that’s right: hardy cyclamen strut their stuff late in the season, a time that most bulb growers ignore. Hardy to USDA Zone 5, hardy cyclamen thrive in most garden areas with average soil. Though they’re fairly slow growing, with a bit of patience and time, they’ll form a lovely colony. Their variegated leaves and pink, recurved flowers are deer resistant, too. You can purchase this fun yet striking bulb plant Here.

I hope you enjoyed this list of some of my favorite unusual flower bulbs and that you find the time to tuck some into your garden this fall. Come spring, I guarantee you’ll be pleased with your efforts!

What spring-flowering bulbs are your favorites? Tell us about them in the comment section below.

For more on growing great bulb plants, check out these related posts:
Foil the squirrels by growing daffodils
Saffron crocus: A spice worth growing

Early Spring Blooming Bulb Collection

Tips on Growing Fall Planted Flower Bulbs

When you receive your spring bulbs (tulips, daffodils, etc.) keep them in a dry, dark, cool place until ready to plant. They need air circulation so they will not collect moisture and rot. Planting times can vary from early October in the North to mid-to-late November in the southern regions. A good rule of thumb is to plant them about 6 weeks before the ground is frozen or after the first hard freeze. For more information and a planting depth illustration, see pages 14-16 of our Planting Guide.

Soil Preparation for Bulbs

Plant tulips in well-drained soil to ensure proper root formation. Incorporate a good quality organic compost as needed. Yum Yum Mix® is recommended as an excellent source of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium needed for strong plants and healthy roots. Mix a small amount into the bottom of the hole before planting your bulbs.

Many bulbs prefer full sun exposure, including Tulips. Exposure to full sun will bring out the rich colors that tulips offer, but some shade will enable a longer blooming period and still offer a colorful addition to your yard or garden. Other bulbs such as Muscaria, Allium, Galanthus, Hyacinthoides, Scilla and many Daffodils will tolerate partial shade and bloom well. Pink daffodils will hold their color longer if planted in dappled shade or morning sun/afternoon shade.

After planting, add a top dressing of compost or other organic material and water in thoroughly. If your winter is dry, water every three to four weeks throughout the winter and add more mulch if necessary.

Protect your Bulbs

One planting of Yellow Crown Imperial per 20 feet of garden bed will deter foraging mice, voles and moles. To deter chipmunks and squirrels from snacking on tulip bulbs, place a grid of chicken wire above the bulbs as you plant to protect them. Apply Chase Mole and Gopher Repellent to the surface of the ground to protect bulbs from these burrowing mammals. As bulbs sprout, use our Deer Off Repellent to prevent deer and rabbits from browsing your spring blooms.

After your Bulbs have Bloomed

Once your bulbs have bloomed, allow the bulb foliage to brown and fade naturally, since the leaves are feeding the bulb in the ground. Removal of foliage weakens the bulb and leads to fewer blooms the following year. Planting your bulbs amongst your perennials is one way to conceal the dying bulb foliage. The perennials begin to grow and fill out as the bulb foliage dies back. The perennials will then provide foliage and color in the garden from late spring through the summer and into fall. Regular fertilization with balanced organic or natural fertilizer and a re-application of mulch each fall will insure more and more beautiful spring bulb blooms for many years!

View more Planting Guides, or download ourcomplete Planting Guidefor tips on caring for your plants when you receive your order, as well as planting instructions for Perennials, Spring-Planted Bulbs, Fall-Planted Bulbs, Cacti & Succulents, Xeric Plants and more.

Spring Flower Bulbs

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BONNIE’S GARDEN – My Top Ten Favorite Spring-Blooming Bulbs

By Bonnie Pega Bonnie’s Garden

Ah, another fall and another chance to share my top-ten favorite bulbs. Give me a minute while I think about this past spring’s garden—how it looked, what did especially well, were there any surprises….

Okay, I’ve reminisced and I’m ready. So here they are:

#10: Alliums

From four foot tall giant alliums with 8 to 10” diameter flower heads to 10” tall sweethearts on the well-draining slope behind my house, I have great respect for these pest-resistant “ornamental onions.”

#9: Hyacinths

Fragrance, fragrance, fragrance! Did I mention they’re incredibly fragrant? And pest-resistant! What else do you need?

#8: Peonies

More fragrance here! And huge showy flowers. And, if deer don’t eat them either, well, so much the better! They’re durable long-lasting perennials.

#7: Bearded Iris

They come in a rainbow of colors from glistening white to purple/black. And pest resistant! (Notice how many of my favorites are pest resistant? Yes, you can have beautiful flowers in your yard if you have deer.)

#6: Snowdrops

I hate winter, so an early blooming flower that reminds me that winter doesn’t last forever is definitely appreciated. Dainty but durable snowdrops will often bloom in February or very early March and—again—are pest resistant!

#5: Crocus

More early spring bloomers. There are two kinds—specie crocus (often called “snow crocus”) bloom very early—about the same time as snowdrops. Regular crocus will bloom two to three weeks after their early blooming relatives—a nice extension of color.

#4: Tulips

Such a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors they come in, though I have a fondness for a traditional bright red (my way of thumbing my nose at winter, I guess.) And, if you’re bothered by pests, simply interplant them with daffodils—which our four-legged pests hate!

#3: Daffodils

Any daffodil, anywhere. From 6-inch tall Minnow to 16-inch tall Dutch Masters, I love them. They’re hardy, they spread gently (without being a bully about it) and nothing eats them (notice that theme again?)

#2: Bluebells

Also known as Wood Hyacinths, Spanish Bluebells or English Bluebells (and botanically known as Hyacinthoides) these are fabulous, long-lasting naturalizers that actually tolerate shade. And (what else) they’re pest-resistant.

And the #1 bulb: Ipheion aka Spring Starflowers

Absolutely my favorite for many reasons. Yes, it is also pest-resistant, but it’s also very long-lasting—lasting over a month—and tolerant of a wide variety of conditions from sun to shade. While it loves the nice soil in my front garden bed, it’s just as happy on the nasty red-clay-mixed-with-granite-gravel slope behind my house.

Of course, there are some other favorites that just didn’t make it into the top-ten. Chionodoxa has sprays of pretty blue flowers and blooms about the same time the crocus bloom (love those earlier spring blooms). Miniature iris— six-inch tall showy flowers that, you guessed it, critters don’t bother. Winter Aconite—a bright yellow buttercup relative that blooms early spring. Fritillaria—tall elegant flowers that earn the name “Crown Imperials”—and the bulbs are said to actually repel voles and moles.

I love all spring-blooming bulbs—they’re tough, durable and perennial—and a little bit like magic. You plant a little brown blob and next spring get a miracle of a flower. Come in and let me help you find a favorite.

Fall-Planted Flower Bulbs

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  • Mount Tacoma Double Late Tulip
  • Purple Sensation Allium
  • Double Late Tulip Mix
  • Pink Spanish Bluebells
  • Spanish Bluebells Mix
  • Apricot Beauty Single Early Tulip
  • Queen Of The Night Single Late Tulip
  • Yellow Queen Dutch Iris
  • Shirley Triumph Tulip
  • Parade Darwin Tulip
  • White Grape Hyacinth
  • Hyacinth Mix
  • Tiger Dutch Iris Mix
  • Fireworks Allium Mix
  • Dutch Iris Mix
  • Thalia Daffodil
  • Jetfire Miniature Daffodil
  • Giant Snowdrops
  • Triumph Tulip Bulbs Ben van Zanten
  • Specie Iris Mix
  • Tete-a-Tete Miniature Daffodil
  • Triumph Tulip Bulbs Mango Charm
  • Candy Cane Triumph Tulip Mix
  • Rock Garden Tulip Bulbs Casa Grande
  • Paul Scherer Triumph Tulip
  • Akebono Darwin Tulip
  • Darwin Tulip Bulbs Hatsuzakura
  • Hakuun Darwin Tulip
  • Cheerfulness Double Daffodil
  • Charisma Amaryllis Bulb
  • Paperwhite – Plastic Pot Kit
  • Striped Amadeus Amaryllis Bulb
  • Giant Amadeus Amaryllis Bulb
  • Daphne Amaryllis Bulb
  • Minerva Amaryllis Kit – Red Tin
  • Christmas Gift Amaryllis Kit – Red Tin
  • Red Lion Amaryllis Kit – Red Tin

Favorite Purple Flowered Bulbs

In September 2004 the Pacific Bulb Society List topic of the week was favorite purple flowered bulbs. There was considerable discussion about what constituted purple that was never resolved so some plants were left out that might have been included. Some were excluded because they were considered magenta or lilac even though it was suggested to include any plants that were a color that was a mixture of red and blue. Others listed plants that some people think of as pink. So there could be favorites on the pink list that some might think belong on the purple list and vice versa. Participants mentioned the bulbs listed below as favorites. They are listed below alphabetically, sometimes with comments, followed by the name and the location of the person who named them as favorite, usually from experience growing them. If we have a picture of the plants mentioned on the wiki there is a link to that picture with the name of the photographer listed on the label of the picture.

Allium — which offers many showy species, especially from Central Asia, in bright violet. (One illustrated from that area). Most of them are tall plants for the border, Jane McGary, Northwestern Oregon.

Alstroemeria philippii — is truly gorgeous a small plant with large flowers of lavender boldly streaked in deep violet, Jane McGary, Northwestern Oregon.

Babiana framesii — long blooming, nice color, but hard to capture the color with a photograph, Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Brodiaea — many nice ones including Brodiaea elegans — rich shiny color Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California; Jane McGary, Northwestern Oregon.

Brodiaea pallida — pale purple with a white center Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Calostemma purpureum — a true plum purple, Diana Chapman, Telos, Northern California.

Colchicum — is one of my favorite plants, and sometimes they look purple, sort of… Jim Shields in central Indiana, USDA Zone 5.

Crocus sativus — and its relatives provide rather stingily a very good purple for the autumn. Jim McKenney, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7.

Crocus tommasinianus — is rodent-resistant and has some very pretty varieties, Jim Shields in central Indiana, USDA Zone 5; Rich violets is available in clones such as ‘Whitewell Purple’. Jane McGary, Northwestern Oregon

Crocus vernus — several strong purple cultivars with big individual flowers are. Some of these have grown in my garden for between thirty and forty years without attention, Jim McKenney, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7. The shiny violet of big crocuses is found in some forms of Crocus vernus, which is not so showy, but less prone to flop over in bad weather. My favorite is one I bought under the name ‘Haarlem Gem’, Jane McGary, Northwestern Oregon.

Dahlia — purple, John E. Bryan.

Dahlia ‘Thomas Edison’ — a beautiful deep purple dahlia which is much more purple than shown, Susan Hayek, Northern California.

Delphinium — species from California that are purple, although some are almost blue. Three candidates: Delphinium decorum, Delphinium hesperium, and Delphinium parryi (almost blue), Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Dichelostemma congestum can also be a rich color, Jane McGary, Northwestern Oregon.

Dierama — a dark winey purple one Susan Hayek, Northern California.

Geissorhiza — Quite a few of these, if multi-colored can be included, these are stunning: Geissorhiza radians and Geissorhiza monanthos; Geissorhiza splendidissima and Geissorhiza heterostyla are both very beautiful too, Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Gladiolus — There are very handsome purple hybrid glads available now, Jim McKenney, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7.

Gladiolus caucasicuus and Gladilus imbricatus are probably my favorites, with G. communis, G. illyricus, and G. italicus following closely. Jim Shields in central Indiana, USDA Zone 5; also Diane Whitehead Victoria, British Columbia, Canada maritime zone 8.

Hemerocallis — We have some purple daylilies that we love very much that are a red-purple in general, but they photograph as red or dark red generally. Some good ones are ‘Watership Down’ and ‘Mephistopheles’, Jim Shields in central Indiana, USDA Zone 5.

Hyacinthus — offer a few purple cultivars, too, although a comparison of the crocus purple and the hyacinth purple may get you thinking about just what this term purple means, Jim McKenney, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7.

Iris douglasiana — long blooming in coastal Northern California, Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Iris latifolia — the best “purple” in the bulbous irises, Jane McGary, Northwestern Oregon

Iris Pacific Coast purple hybrids — Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Iris reticulata — “old original”, which will stand in for all the wonderful purple iris. “Old original” also has the scent of Viola odorata, Jim McKenney, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7.

Iris unguicularis — beautiful and blooms when a lot of other things are not in bloom, Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Kaempferia rotunda — flower is hardly purple, but there is a bit of purple in it. Although hardy near a wall here, it is better in a pot so it can be bought in and the fragrance appreciated — Jim McKenney, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7.

Leucocoryne vittata– I really love the intricate pattern of the flowers of this species and it is the one that I have the best luck getting to grow, Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Moraea gigandra and Moraea loubseri do not bloom as long and the latter sometimes skips years, but when they do bloom they are both extraordinary with their gorgeous markings, Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Moraea polystachya — one of the first to bloom in fall and blooms for months with new flowers appearing all the time. Flowers are large with nice markings, Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Triteleia bridgesii — nice shiny center, Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Triteleia laxa — North Coast forms that are short and dark purple and ‘Sierra Giant’ with shiny petals and large flowers shiny center, Mary Sue Ittner, Northern California.

Tulipa — red purple and a dull blue purple, Jim McKenney, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7.

Return to the Favorite Bulbs page

Planting Spring Bulbs: What Are Bulbs For Spring Season

There is nothing more satisfying to a gardener than seeing those first early spring flower bulbs popping up from the cold ground. These little sprouts soon bloom into gorgeous blossoms, brightening up your garden for the start of a great growing year. Let’s take a look at some common types of spring flowering bulbs.

Flower Gardening with Spring Bulbs

There are many types of spring flowering bulbs to choose from. Most people select some of each kind for a brilliant spring display.

Tulip – These happy spring flowers are probably one of the more well-known spring bulbs. There are many variations and tons of colors to choose from. These bulbs prefer well drained or sandy soil that is rich in fertilizer.

Plant tulips in the fall for spring blooms. Planting these spring bulbs is fairly easy. Place bulbs 4 to 8 inches deep and about 6 inches apart. In some areas, plants will come back year after year. In other areas, they will need to be replanted.

Siberian Squill – These pretty deep blue flowers bloom on straight grass-like leaves and stems. They need to be planted in the fall for early spring blooms. They like well-drained soil in a sunny or partially sunny area. Plants can grow around 6 inches high and need to be planted around 6 inches apart and 4 inches deep.

Daffodil – Daffodils are another spring favorite among gardeners with their beautiful yellow and white flowers. They like to grow in well-drained soil but it needs to be rich in compost or other organic matter.

Daffodils do well in an area with full or partial sun. Their leaves are shiny, long stalks, and the flowers look like little cups. They should be planted 6 to 12 inches deep and 6 to 12 inches apart. Larger varieties will need more room. Divide every three or four years to keep these spring beauties from taking over.

Dutch Iris – The Dutch iris is a beautiful dark purple iris variety that is a perfect cut flower. It can grow up to 2 feet high and needs to be divided after a few years to keep it under control. This kind of iris likes dry and sunny spots where it will receive full sun all day. Plant bulbs in the fall 5 inches deep and 6 inches apart.

Common Snowdrop – These dainty little white flowers look like something straight out of a fairy tale. The blooms hang down in a dropping fashion. These bulbs do well in full or partial shade and moist soil. Plenty of compost is a must for beautiful blooms. Plant in the fall about 3 inches deep, and 3 inches apart.

Crocus – These cute flowers are low to the ground and are perfect for garden borders. They grow about 6 inches high and bloom white, yellow, purple, or striped. They prefer well drained soil in partial shade or full sun. Plant in the fall for early spring blooms. Bulbs should be 3 inches deep and 4 inches apart.

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