The Best Bulbs to Plant in Spring

Bulbs bursting with color are one of the best ways to light up an outdoor space, long before most perennials, trees and shrubs have begun to grow.

Planting spring bulbs should result in a gorgeous garden, abundant with blooms for the entire summer.

Here are some recommendations about the best bulbs to plant in spring, according to gardening experts.

Bulbs to Plant In Spring

Planting bulbs for spring is a great way to all-but guarantee a colorful garden in the coming months.

Jonathan Pearce, head gardener at UK nature reserve Pensthorpe Natural Park, suggests springtime is one of the best moments to ensure your green space looks radiant in the weeks ahead.

He told Newsweek: "Now we are looking ahead to the warmer months, there are many things we can all be doing to get our gardens ready for spring and beyond—including planting bulbs so they are ready to flower and bloom throughout the summer.

"There's a vast selection of bulbs that are more suited to warmer temperatures."

Pearce's favorites include:

  • Anemone
  • Cannas
  • Crocosmia
  • Lilies,
  • Gladioli
  • Bergonias
  • Dahlia
Planting spring flowers in sunny garden
Bulbs are also inexpensive, arrive in a range of beautiful varieties and are very versatile. AlexRaths/Getty Images

"Some of these are technically corms, tubers or rhizomes, but they do often get grouped together as bulbs."

All of these bulbs are recognized for flowering well and are usually found in local garden stores and online for a reasonable price, usually costing significantly less than other flowers.

Fiona Jenkins, gardening expert at MyJobQuote, believes spring time is an opportunity to be bold with your choice of bulbs.

She told Newsweek: "Spring is the ideal time to plant bright and bold dahlias and begonias. And if you want to get the most out of these popular flowers, choose colorful or long-flowering varieties.

"Try a 'Non-Stop' begonia mix for longevity or 'Pompon' dahlia varieties for their eye-catching, round flowerheads.

"Lily bulbs are perfect for planting in early spring. They thrive in pots and borders, adding height and color to gardens. Some have giant flowers, others are patterned or scented, giving you plenty of choice to suit your style.

"Striped petal varieties such as 'Stargazer' and 'Magic Star' are certainly crowd-pleasers. But for something a bit more unusual, you could go for a spotty toad lily aka Tricyrtis hirta, or the vibrant and contrasting colors of the 'Forever Susan' lily.

"Crocosmia bulbs are another good choice for spring planting. These red and orange-hued flowers add a burst of color to gardens and create a tropical vibe for summertime."

How to Care For Your Bulbs This Spring

Planting spring bulbs in lawns is a brilliant method of brightening up large areas of green grass or difficult to plant areas such as steep banks.

Jonathan Pearce believes it is important to note these bulbs "need full sun to grow and flourish" and do not want to be planted too early "so timing is going to be key."

He said: "Many of these spring bulbs will have been lifted from the outside in the autumn when they've died back and will have been moved inside to ensure they don't get damaged by the frost, particularly Bergonias and Cannas."

He added the ideal planting environment will feature a soil temperature of around 10 or 11 degrees, otherwise they will rot, meaning it is consequently vital to understand where in the soil some of these bulbs prefer to be planted.

large flower bed with multi-colored hyacinths
A large flower bed with multi-colored hyacinths. Planting bulbs in spring is a great way to plan for a colorful garden in the summer months. Kateryna Mashkevych/Getty Images

Pearce said: "For instance, Lilies need to be placed deeper into the soil – approximately six inches—compared to traditional autumn bulbs, so they can grow in more rich and fertile soil, whereas Nerines and Bergonias can be planted closer to the surface.

"It may also be worth looking into sharp sand for Lilies too and placing these bulbs on top, so they don't rot."

Understanding and adapting to the garden's soil type is also key, with Pearce noting: "Some spring bulbs prefer drier soils whereas others would benefit from being potted in a greenhouse or on the windowsill first, before moving them outside and planting them in flower beds."

"Of course, if you choose to plant your spring bulbs in pots, that does provide you with some extra control as you can utilize whichever soil or compost you prefer – and can tailor this depending on the bulb's specific requirements.

"It's also important to note that you could begin the whole process in pots to give the bulbs a quicker start and to avoid the possibility of late frosts that can occur in certain areas."

The Best Bulbs For Pots

Spending just a short time planting spring bulbs in pots will ensure an abundance of colorful blooms in the summer months.

Pearce believes gardeners can experiment a little by planting a variety of bulbs in different pots, potentially allowing them to rotate the display, bringing those at their peak to the fore.

He said: "Cannas and Bergonias are a great example of bulbs that can begin in pots, but that can easily be transferred outside when they are ready and the temperature allows.

"For spring bulbs that are being planted in raised flower beds, make sure you treat them like a pot, as the soil will dry out a lot quicker.

"My biggest suggestion is to plant in threes – don't just plant in ones or twos as the rule of three will give you a better overall aesthetic to enjoy in your garden.

"You can also place different bulbs in the same area, but as they will flower at different times, your outdoor space will have a wonderful selection of colors throughout the next few months."

Flower bulbs in pots ready for planting
Flower bulbs in pots ready for planting in the flowerbed. Growing bulbs that do best in low light, including woodland anemones, scillas, narcissi and snowdrops work best for shady gardens. Vladdeep/Getty Images

How to Plant Spring Bulbs

While the majority of bulbs prefer to be planted approximately two or three times their own height, this can though vary, meaning it is important to check the packet's instructions.

However, gardeners deciding on "forcing" bulbs indoors, should plant them much shallower, with the tips of their shoots poking just above the soil level.

Pensthorpe Natural Park's Jonathan Pearce told Newsweek: "In terms of equipment, my top suggestions are a good fork, a decent spade and a trowel too."

"Depending on the soil type and if you're potting the bulbs, compost would also be a great addition, as well as leaf mold to hold more nutrients within the soil.

"Here at Pensthorpe, there are also several external factors that we consider when choosing our spring bulbs.

"With the native and visiting bird species at the nature reserve, we choose bulbs that we know aren't going to be destroyed by the wildlife here—the narcissus get left alone, but tulips are often a favorite to be eaten.

"Our soil is also predominantly free-draining, so that is another factor we need to take on board. Spring is also an ideal time to move your autumn planted bulbs around too.

"After all, you know exactly where they are, so you can quite easily alter where they are positioned in the bed and spread them out a little, splitting them up into four or five bulbs as an example."

close up colorful tulips in tulip field
Close up of colorful tulips in a field. Tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils are all classic picks for a spring garden. kanonsky/Getty Images