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Best Spring Bulbs for Beginners

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Best Spring Bulbs for Beginners

If you’ve been gardening for a while now and are familiar with growing annuals and perennials, perhaps now is the time to venture out into bulb gardening. Now, we don’t want you getting nervous about this — although bulbs are planted slightly differently than other types of plants, they are actually very easy to plant and maintain!

Tulips

To get you started, we’re going to give you a quick overview on bulb gardening, and from there you can refer to one of our super handy Planting Guides for the type of bulb you are interested in growing. After that, we’re going to make some recommendations on what type of spring-flowering bulb to start with, depending upon what your goals are.

 

Bulb Planting 101

Bulbs are different than other types of plants because they are usually sold as a bare bulbs in packs, rather than as plants in pots with soil and roots (unless you’re buying one of our amazing pre-planted Amaryllis gifts here). But don’t let the unfamiliar appearance fool you — they are easy peasy to plant and grow! Here’s a quick overview to get you started with your spring flowering bulbs:

  1. When to plant bulbs: Bulbs that flower in the spring (tulip, crocus, daffodils, hyacinth, scilla, and snowdrops) are planted in the fall. Bulbs that flower in the summer or even in the fall (caladiums, dahlias, gladiolus, lilies) are planted in the spring — learn more here.

  2. How to plant bulbs: Always read the directions that come with your bulbs, but in general, larger bulbs are planted up to 8” deep, and smaller bulbs are planted up to 5” deep. Plant the pointy side of the bulb facing upwards (or with any visible roots facing down) — if you can’t tell, simply plant on its side and the bulb will usually find its way upright. Bulbs are pretty amazing that way.

  3. How to care for bulbs after they flower: When the bulbs are done blooming, cut the spent flower off but leave the foliage alone for a while. The leaves gather nutrients and store in the bulb for the following season, so cutting them off too early will have a definite impact on next year’s bloom. Wait until the foliage is brown or yellow, then cut them at ground level.

  4. What does a healthy bulb look like? That’s a great question, because if you’re new to growing bulbs, they may look a little unfamiliar to you. The healthiest bulbs — and the ones that will give you the strongest plant with the best blooms — are large for their type, firm, and dry. Do a hard pass on tiny, shriveled bulbs or any that have mold or squishy spots. And it probably goes without saying (but we’re going to say it anyway), bulbs from Easy to Grow Bulbs are always superior and healthy so you never need to worry!

Best Spring Bulbs for Beginners

CrocusThese categories are some of the most sought-after characteristics for spring bulb gardeners, but here’s even better news: Many of these spring bulbs fit neatly into more than one category! For example, crocus is both an early bloomer and critter resistant, and peonies are critter resistant and fragrant. While the blooms alone on these bulbs make them highly valuable, when a plant can actually solve a garden problem for you, it’s always a plus.


  • Early bloomers: After a long cold winter, sometimes you just have to see a sign of life in the garden, right? Fortunately, there are lots of bulbs that bloom in late winter or very early spring to jump-start your spring growing season. You can see a full list of early bloomers here, but some of our all-time favorites include crocus, hyacinth, and anemone.

  • Critter resistant: We love wildlife, but sometimes critters like deer, rabbits, or voles can do a number or two on your bulb garden. The answer is simple — just use bulbs that those animals don’t like! Plant paperwhites, peonies, and giant snowflake with confidence that furry friends will look but not touch. 

  • Fragrant: What if you want a spring-blooming bulb garden that is also fragrant? We’ve got you covered! Try freesia, amaryllis, or even fragrant tulips!

  • Shade tolerant: Those less-than-sunny spots in your garden can sometimes be a little tricky when you want color, but the good news is that many bulbs flower in part shade or dappled shade conditions. Among them are Galanthus (also known as snowdrops), daffodils, and camassia.

  • Cut flower bulbs: Who doesn’t love a vase or a hand full of cut flowers? When you grow your own, they’re right outside your back door! Consider anemone, tulips, daffodils, and hyacinth.

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  • Katie Elzer-Peters