Top 11 Early Spring Blooming Bulbs
When you think of the spring garden, chances are good that images of flowering bulbs pop into your mind, don’t they? Come April and May, our gardens are bursting with color from these blooming bulbs — but there’s no need to wait until then to enjoy some color in your garden.
There’s a large group of bulbs that bloom much earlier in the season, from late winter to early spring. Add some of these to your garden, and you’ve instantly extended your garden season simply by jump-starting it. Here are some of our favorites — they are perfect for mixing and matching, planting in masses, or tucking into your favorite containers!
There are spring-flowering crocus and fall-flowering crocus, and we’re talking about the spring bloomers here. Depending upon your growing zone, these tiny bloomers can pop their heads up in late winter to early spring, often right through the snow! Sporting Easter egg colors of purple, yellow, lavender, and white, crocus are low-growing up to 5 to 6 inches tall with cup-shaped flower petals. Plant them in the fall about 3” deep in well-drained soil, in an area of your garden that receives full sun to part shade at the time they will be blooming. USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8.
Our favorites? King of the Stripes with its striped violet petals, Goldilocks with golden yellow blooms, and Jeanne d’Arc for a stunning white display. Need more detailed planting directions? We’ve got them for you here.
2. Galanthus or "Snowdrop"
These short (5-6” tall) woodland bulbs have tiny white flowers with green markings at the end of arching stems. They have a sweet honey scent, are deer resistant, and bloom around the same time that their crocus friends do. They’re best planted in the fall in well-drained soil, at a 2-3” planting depth, in an area that will receive full sun to partial shade during their bloom time. Although they are suitable for USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9, keep in mind that they do need some winter chill in order to bloom best — so gardeners with very mild winters may to find a happy alternative.
These bright blooms flower in early spring through the fall, depending upon the species. Their flower shapes and colors offer a wide range to suit your taste — petals are slim or rounded, single or double, and in shades of red, white, blue, pink, yellow, coral, purple, and coral. Anemones are a bit taller than some of their other blooming friends, growing up to 10 inches tall. They generally prefer a bit of shade and well-drained but moist soil in USDA Hardiness Zones 5-10.
Anemone Blanda types, including sparkling white, pink shades, and this flutter mix are early blooming and look great with other spring bulbs. And don’t forget our Anemone Planting Guide — it can get you going with loads of detailed information.
The hyacinth is one of those instantly recognizable spring bloomers, cheering up early and mid-spring gardens with a lovely sweet fragrance and a host of yummy colors. These bulbs typically grow 10 to 12 inches tall with small clusters of flowers along sturdy stems, in shades of pink, blue, purple, red, white, coral, and yellow. Give them full sun to partial shade, well-drained soil, and watch them take off in your garden! USDA Hardiness Zones 4-8.
Try Sweet Berry Mix for a range of luscious rose and white shades, and Hyacinth Fragrant Path Mix with a lively combo of red, purple, white, and yellow flowers Check out our Hyacinth Planting Guide here.
Winter Aconite bulbs really do bloom in late winter, or very early spring. They have gorgeous buttercup yellow flowers that sit right atop green palm-shaped, low-growing leaves. Hard to find, but easy to grow, these super early bloomers always brighten up the spring garden.
Could it really be spring without tulips? Early blooming tulip bulbs love the sunshine and can grow to be 8 to 18 inches tall. There's a tulip for everyone with the huge array of colors, patterns, and styles available. These beauties will show off your gardening abilities and are gorgeous in cut flower arrangements.
7. Narcissus (Daffodils)
If you’re looking for a critter resistant bulb choose daffodils. They thrive in partial shade to full sunshine and grow to be 12 to 16 inches tall. Select from pink, white, multi color, and especially bright yellow flower colors available.
If you love cheerful colors with sweet fragrances try our Narcissus Classic Trumpet Daffodil mix. It is a garden favorite and super durable. Here is the Daffodil bulb planting guide so your garden looks perfect in the spring.
8. Ipheion (Starflower)
The fragrant, starry spring blooms of Ipheion bulbs give rise to the common name of Starflowers. They flower starting in early spring right up until the heat of summer sets in. Highly resistant to deer and rabbits, Starflowers twinkle in the garden bed, rock gardens or patio containers. Plant the Wish Upon a Starflower mix for a beautiful blend of colors.
9. Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow)
Glory of the Snow blooms in very early spring. Mix the starry blues, pinks and whites for a delightful garden! Deer resistant, squirrel resistant, cold-hardy naturalizers. We're partial to the Spring Singalong Mix.
10. Grape Hyacinths (Muscari)
Like the name says, grape hyacinths resemble miniature bunches of yes… grapes! They have a light, sweet scent and come in bright blue, purple, white, and bicolor selections. In partial to full sun they can grow 6 to 10 inches tall.
11. Scilla (Siberian Squill)
Scilla (Siberian Squill) are adorable early bloomers that naturalize well, creating a river of blue, patch of pink, or bright white display in the garden. Siberian squill bulbs are easy to grow but if you still want some assistance along the way utilize our Scilla planting guide.
Planting Tip for all early-blooming bulbs: Remember that when these bulbs start to flower, it’s typically before the trees around them have had time to leaf out. So, that part of your garden that is usually shadier in the summer may actually be the ideal location for late winter/early spring flowering bulbs.
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- Katie Elzer-Peters