Flowering bulbs for spring

This spring flowering bulb primer will help you decide which flowers are best for your garden.

Spring bulbs come in an amazing variety of sizes and colors and are the first flowers to signal the arrival of spring. Most spring bulb flowers (even the tiny ones) are excellent for cutting. Bring them into the house to use for flower arrangements or simply enjoy their fragrance.

Spring bulbs should be planted in large groupings for the best effect. Typically bulbs are planted in the fall and bloom in the spring. After they bloom the foliage dies down and the plants "disappear" for the rest of the year, until they reappear again the next spring. Always let the foliage die down naturally, because this is the plant's way of storing food for the next growing season.

Below is a spring flowering bulb primer to help you decide which flowers are best for your garden.


Members of the Amaryllis family, snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis), despite their small size, have white bell-shaped flowers that are highly visible. Plants typically grow 6 to 9 inches in height. Snowdrops thrive in full or partial sun and prefer well-drained soil. They are the first flowers to bloom in spring, often as early as February. They naturalize easily and will form large colonies.


The blue flowers of Scilla (Scilla siberica "ňúSpring Beauty') are also among the first to bloom in the spring. The diminutive Spring Beauty is 4 to 6 inches in height. Preferring moist soil, it thrives in full sun to partial shade. It naturalizes easily forming large patches of blue flowers across the lawn. Scilla is a member of the lily family.


Almost everyone is familiar with the crocus (Crocus chrysanthus). Blooming as early as February, crocus flowers are synonymous with the arrival of spring. The crocus is a member of the iris family and technically is not a bulb, but a corm (a solid underground stem). Plants are 4 to 6 inches tall, with large and showy flowers, most often in white, purple, purple and white striped, or yellow. They prefer well-drained soil and full to partial sun. They naturalize easily and will multiply over several years to form large groupings.

Glory of the Snow

Snow Glories (Chionodoxa luciliae) bloom in early spring, usually March. At 6 to 9 inches high, the tiny, yet showy flowers are a pale bluish-lilac color with white centers. Like many other spring bulbs, they are members of the lily family and grow well in full or partial sun in moist well-drained soil. They naturalize easily forming large groupings.

Grape Hyacinths

A member of the lily family, grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) has clusters of deep blue-purple bell-shaped flowers on a stalk that from a distance resemble a cluster of grapes, hence the name. Grape hyacinth with its fragrant blooms is diminutive in size, approximately 6 inches in height, and is easy to miss if growing amongst other grasses or flowers. It does well in shady areas with partial sun or in full sun in well-drained soil. It blooms in April and May.


The common or Dutch hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) has showy fragrant flowers growing on a stalk that resemble miniature lilies. White, pink, bluish-purple, and yellow are the most common flower colors. Hyacinths grow well in all light conditions except for full shade. They are 8 to 12 inches tall and bloom in April and May. Hyacinths are often sold as potted plants especially around Easter.


Daffodils (Narcissus sp.) are members of the amaryllis family. Daffodils have large showy flowers with a trumpet, typically in the form of a single flower at the top of a long stem. Flowers are usually creamy white, or pale or dark yellow, with matching trumpet colors or contrasting orange trumpets.

There are numerous cultivars of daffodils, each with its own special feature, long or short trumpets, small or large flowers, pale yellow trumpet, bright orange trumpet, to name a few. Heights of daffodil plants range from 6 to 24 inches tall. They prefer moist well-drained soil and full to partial sun. Daffodils bloom in March and April. Jonquils are another hybrid of the Narcissus sp.. They are quite similar in appearance, but have fragrant flowers.


The large brightly colored flowers of the tulip (Tulipa sp.) resemble an upside down teacup. There are endless varieties of tulips. Flower colors may be yellow, red, orange, white, or anything in between including peach, apricot, and variegated yellow and red. There are even dark purple and black varieties. Sometimes the petals are fringed, but most are not. Tulips are generally 8 to 18 inches tall and form a single flower on the end of a long stalk. They prefer full sun and well-drained soil.

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