8 Bulbs to Plant Now for the Prettiest Flower Garden in Spring

updated Oct 15, 2020
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spring garden full of tulips and daffodils
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If you’re like me and many other gardeners across the country, you’re already thinking about your spring garden. And if you’re a newbie to the gardening scene, now’s the perfect time to get on board—if you want a beautiful spring garden, you’ll have to act now.

October is the best month to plant your flower bulbs, which need to over-winter in order to bloom in spring. Do the work now and you’ll thank yourself in the chilly days of March or April when you can see blooms popping up while the rest of your landscaping remains dormant.

Daffodils and tulips might be the most familiar picks, but they’re not the only bulbs worth planting for spring. There are so many options out there! These are a few of my favorites that are worth trying at least once in your gardening journey.

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Daffodils

Okay. Yes, I did say there are plenty of options besides daffodils, but these babes are an old-school trademark of spring—and for good reason! When they start to pop out of the ground, it’s a sign that winter is over and warmer months are on the way.

The most common variety is the big, yellow Dutch Master, which many folks love, but I’ll be honest here and say this OG variety doesn’t do it for me. Why settle for “meh” when you can have daffodil blooms that will blow your socks off? There are hundreds of others to choose from, so do yourself a favor and back away from the Big Bird colored daffs and try an heirloom variety. 

One to look out for: the “Petit Four” variety, which is a gorgeous, pale wisp of a thing. It has white pointed outer petals that frame the inner double crown that’s full of blush pink and apricot petals. The blooms even smell delicious! 

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Lily of the Valley

Lily of the valley is a delicate-looking flower that appears at the beginning of spring. The plant produces sweet, white bell-shaped flowers that look like they’re made of porcelain. It is a perennial and has been known to survive the harshest of winters, so you’ll only have to plant this one once. 

Heed this warning, though: Even if it looks like it was dropped onto early by the divine, lily of the valley is poisonous enough to kill a grown adult (if you’ve watched “Breaking Bad”—no spoilers—you probably already knew this). All parts of the plant are toxic, housing at least 40 different cardiac glycosides that will lead to death if not immediately treated. 

So, plant lily of the valley and enjoy from afar. Mind your children and animals around this one.

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Tulips

Did you know the tulips were first discovered as a wildflower growing in central Asia? In the 17th century, the blooms reached Holland and were so popular that they launched an economic bubble called Tulip Mania. From there, the craze moved further into the West and botanists began dabbling with the genetics. Now, we have thousands of tulip varieties and cultivars at our disposal, ready to be planted in our gardens.

If you want to get a little adventurous in your tulip garden, go for heirloom. My absolute favorite tulip is the Black Parrot tulip. I know that dark flowers aren’t for everyone, but this variety is a true showstopper amongst all the bright colors of spring. If you choose to plant and love this tulip, be prepared for a wild amount of depth and dimension to appear in your garden beds. 

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Crocus

The spring crocus is one of the first blooms to emerge from the cold ground at the end of winter. Often, you’ll find their colorful petals peeking through the remaining snow of March, which is telling of its nickname “snow crocus.” The typical snow crocus has thin leaves and only reaches 4 inches tall. These plants produce the most adorable blooms that make them perfect for the smaller, empty spots in your garden. 

Before you get started, make sure you have your hands on the spring-blooming crocus bulbs. There are other varieties of crocus that bloom in the summer and fall. If you grab the wrong bulb, you’ll have to wait much longer to see them emerge from the soil.

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Grape Hyacinth

When I was a kid growing up in the country, grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) erupted in the yard every spring and it was my absolute favorite thing. I would go around collecting the little flowers and then would take my time popping all the tiny petals off, which separate from the short stem in a very satisfying manner.

Grape hyacinth is in the lily family, which you can tell by the long, thin foliage. It is a small plant that makes a great addition to the small corners and borders of gardens. Grape hyacinth is also a wonderful container bulb that plays well with the other blooms on this list. 

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Anemones

As you probably know, these flowers are extremely popular and are frequently used by florists all year long. Not only do they bloom at the onset of spring, but they continue to produce flowers until the early summer. 

Anemones can generate a huge amount of blooms per bulb—sometimes up to 20! Their blooms typically have singular petals that do not overlap.

One of the most popular varieties of anenome is the “De Caen.” Also known as the black-eyed anemone, the plant produces large, true white flowers with a black center. It’s also identifiable by its foliage, which is plentiful and fern-like. 

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Ranunculus 

Ranunculus, the other favorite spring flower, have crepe-paper thin petals that overlap in dozens of layers. My favorite is the champagne variety, which screams of romance and softness and warm spring days.

Note: If you live in zones 7 or colder, you’ll need to plant your ranunculus in early spring instead.

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Allium

The last place on this list goes to a plant the looks like it’s straight out of a Dr. Suess book. Allium, also known as ornamental onion, are part of the same vegetable family as shallots, onions and garlic. However, this ornamental variety of onion doesn’t belong in the veggie plot—instead, give it a well-deserved spot in your perennial garden. 

These plants are cold-hardy, drought-hardy and naturally pest-resistant. How could you go wrong there? It’s also a favorite of pollinators like honeybees and butterflies.

The tallest of the allium varieties have massive, globe-shaped flowers that appear on four-foot stems. They’ll produce blooms through the early summer and can be found in shades of white and purple.