Spring planted bulbs are a great way to add color to your gardens with minimal effort. Bulbs planted in the spring are straightforward to grow and have fewer issues vs. bulbs planted in the fall, making them an excellent choice for new gardeners. The bulbs on this list are also highly adaptable to many growing conditions making them almost fool proof. Here is our recommendations for the best flower bulbs for spring planting for your home gardens.
What is a Spring Planted Bulb?
Bulbs for spring planting are also referred to as summer bulbs or tender bulbs. Plant these bulbs in spring for brilliant blooms come mid-summer.
There are five types of “bulbs”: Corms, tubers, true bulbs, rhizomes, and tuberous roots. You may hear people refer to Dahlia tubers as bulbs, for instance. Don’t let that confuse you; they are all classified as bulbs.
You can pick up bulbs at the local garden center or by mail order in late fall for spring delivery.
Related: Check out our guide to planting fall bulbs for early blooms in spring!
Tips for Planting Spring bulbs
Bulbs planted in spring are also referred to as summer bulbs; this is because we plant these bulbs in spring for a bounty of color come mid-summer.
To ensure you get the most out of your spring-planted bulbs, you need to prep your planting area first and follow a few climate instructions to provide the right environment for big healthy, beautiful blooms all through summer.
Your soil should be a well-draining site. Soggy soil can cause the bulbs to rot, and a rotted bulb is an invitation for pests to feast.
You will want to also amend the soil before planting with lots of organic matter or compost.
While the rule of thumb for spring-blooming bulbs like daffodils is to plant at a depth three times the bulb’s height, this isn’t always the case with spring-planted bulbs. Tubers and rhizomes usually need to be planted much closer to the surface.
If you don’t live in a Southern growing zone and want your bulbs to bloom again next year, you will have to dig out the flower bulbs in the fall.
Wait until the foliage dies back, often after the first frost. Don’t allow the spring-blooming bulbs to freeze. Instead, dig them out carefully and let them dry.
Fill your garden with bulbs for spring planting
There are many ways to use bulbs in your garden, from mixed flower beds, edging, containers, foundation plants, borders; the list is endless. Here we have provided a list of bulbs for spring planting that you can propagate again and again for years of continuous blooms. Start small with a few bulbs, and you will be surprised at how fast they multiply.
In warmer zones in the south, most of the bulbs will be perennial. In cooler zones, the bulbs will need to be lifted in fall and stored inside for protection against the winter cold. If you are unsure what zone you are in you can check this nifty zone checker to verify.
Anemone coronaria (Windflowers) are cheerful, happy flowers that are incredibly easy to grow and look very much like poppies.
There are two types of Anemone coronaira. The first group, De Caen, has single white, red, pink, mauve, or blue flowers 1-3 inches across and 6-8 petals. The St Bridgid group’s second group includes semi-double lush petals in red, pink, violet, blue and white.
- Hardiness: USDA zones 8-10. Tubers can be lifted at the end of the season and over wintered indoors in colder regions.
- Sun requirements: : Grows best in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade.
- Soil requirements: Well drained soil with sandy loam
- Planting time: Early spring
- Planting depth : 3 inches
- Spacing: 8 Inches
- Flowering time: Midsummer
- Where to plant : Sheltered spot at the front of a border, in containers.
- How to propagate : Divide tubers when dormant. Plants will also self seed readily.
- Deer and rabbit resistant: Resistant to both rabbit and deer.
Tuberous begonias are showy large-flowered plants with soft ruffly petals. The blooms resemble roses, camellias, and carnations and will bloom all summer long.
The flowers range from white, red, orange, yellow, salmon, and pink. In addition, some varieties have variegated coloring.
- Hardiness: Zone 10. Tubers can be lifted and dried in the fall for indoor winter storage. Store in a cool dry area.
- Sun requirements: Partial to full shade.
- Soil requirements: Very well draining soil, begonias do not like to have wet feet.
- Planting Time: Early Spring after all chances of frost have passed.
- Planting Depth : At soil level.
- Spacing: 8 Inches
- Flowering time: Summer to early autumn
- Where to plant: Garden borders, beds or containers. Trailing types are perfect for hanging baskets.
- How to propagate: Seeds, or basal cuttings in spring.
- Deer and rabbits resistant: Not all begonias are deer-resistant, but those with fuzzy stems and leaves or waxy stems and leaves tend to be avoided by deer and rabbits. The critters simply do not like the texture!
Related: Tuberous? Rhizomatous? Shrub? Rex!? Are these types of begonias or D&D character names? Check out our full guide to the types of begonias to learn more!
The tropical and exotic Canna lily makes for a stand-out accent plant for the garden. Tall canna lilies can grow 5-6 tall and make a perfect backdrop for wide borders or foundation displays.
The flowers bloom in white, cream, yellow, orange salmon, pink and red. The foliage may be green or bronze.
- Hardiness: Hardy to USDA zones 7-10. In colder regions the plant be lifted and stored over winter for planting next spring.
- Sun requirements: Cannas are tropical plants that thrive in full sun.
- Soil requirements: Well drained, fertile soil that is consistently moist through the growing season.
- Planting Time: Early Spring
- Planting Depth : 2 inches.
- Spacing: 24 inches.
- Flowering time: Midsummer to autumn.
- Where to plant : In the back or middle of a mixed or tropical border or in a rock garden. Their foliage looks lovely even when not in bloom and will provide a backdrop for later blooming flowers.
- How to propagate: Cannas can be propagated in spring by division of the rhizomes. Cannas can also be propagated from seed, although cultivars will not come true.
- Deer and rabbit resistant: Canna lilies are resistant to deer and rabbits .
The lovely and elegant calla lily with arrow-shaped foliage and trumpet-style blooms is a sought-after cut flower. The plants also grow exceptionally well indoors. The plants are easy to cultivate and bloom only eight weeks after planting.
Calla lilies come in a range of luscious colors from white, yellow, orange, pink, lavender, rose, and maroon.
- Hardiness: Calla lilies are hardy in USDA zones 8-10. In colder reigions they can be grown as annuals or dug up in the fall and stored indoors for planting the following spring.
- Sun requirements: Full sun to partial shade
- Soil requirements: Organically rich, moist, well-drained soils.
- Planting Time: Spring.
- Planting Depth: 6 inches.
- Spacing: 12-18 inches.
- Flowering time: Early summer.
- Where to plant: In the perennial garden, container plantings, indoors as a house plant, and in the cutting garden.
- How to propagate: Calla lilies can be propagated in spring by division of the rhizomes or by planting seeds in spring.
- Deer & rabbit resistant: Deer and rabbits will not eat calla lilies.
Commonly called Montbretia, copper tips, or falling stars, these tropical beauties look brilliant in summer gardens. The flowers are hardy down to zone 5 and can stay in the ground year-round in all but the coldest climates.
The plants light-up summer gardens with colors of red, salmon, maroon, orange, and yellow. The flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
- Hardiness: Hardiness zone 5. In colder climates pull the corms and store indoors over winter.
- Sun requirements: Thrives in full sun, but will grow well in partial shade.
- Soil requirements: Plant in well draining, fertile, moist soil.
- Planting Time: Spring.
- Planting Depth : 3-4 inches.
- Spacing: 3 inches.
- Flowering time: Mid to late summer.
- Where to plant : The back of borders, and the cut flower garden.
- How to propagate : To propagate crocosmia, lift clumps in spring and gently pull the corms apart.
- Deer & rabbit resistant: Yes. Deer and rabbits will avoid eating crocosmia.
If I had to pick just one summer bulb to plant, it would be dahlias. There is something for everyone, from the small pom-pom style flowers to the large flowers of dinner plate dahlias. They will bloom with minimum care from summer until the first frost in rich, moist soil.
Dahlias bring an almost unlimited selection of height, color, and flower type to a sunny garden. They bloom in every color except green and blue and make excellent cut flowers.
- Sun requirements: Full sun to light shade.
- Soil requirements: Fertile, well draining, continually moist soil.
- Planting Time: Early spring.
- Planting Depth : 12 inches for smaller dahlias, up to 36 inches for dinner-plate types.
- Flowering time: Summer to first frost.
- Where to plant: Everywhere. But seriously, in a cottage style foundation planting, at the back of the border, in a cut flower garden, in formal beds and containers.
- How to propagate: Dahlias propagate through division of tubers, seeds, and cuttings readily! You can grow one dahlia bulb into a mass of plants in a few short years.
- Deer & rabbit resistant: Dahlias are low on deer and rabbits preferred menu choices and they will generally leave dahlias alone if other more interesting food is available.
Gladiolus tall upright flower stems look lovely in the back of a wide border or foundation planting.
The flowers come in white, cream, light yellow, ivory, orange, orange, salmon, scarlet, red, deep red, black-red, rose, violet, lilac, lavender, and purple.
- Hardiness: Hardy to zone 6-10. For cooler zones corms can be pulled up in fall. New corms can be separated from old corms to plant again in spring.
- Light requirements: Full sun, but will tolerate partial shade
- Soil types: Well drained, well fertile soil. Keep soil moist.
- Planting Time: Early Spring after the danger of frost has passed.
- Planting Depth : 3-4 inches.
- Spacing: 6 inches.
- Flowering time: Midsummer. Succession plant Gladiolus every two weeks for a constant supply of flowering stems through the entire summer.
- Where to plant: Plant these tall flowers at the back of borders, back of beds, or in large containers. They also make wonderful cut flowers and would be right at home in a cut flower garden.
- How to propagate: Sow new seeds in spring, or keep and plant cormlets for planting and blooms 1-2 years later.
- Deer and rabbit resistant: Resistant to both deer and rabbits.
Learn More: How to Grow and Care For Gladiolus.
Ranunculus, commonly called Persian buttercups, are wonderfully upright flowers with strong, sturdy stems and double ruffled blooms. The flowers are so perfect they almost look fake. The paper-like petals look like they were made from crepe.
Buttercups bloom in cream, pale yellow, apricot, pink, orange, red, and burgundy.
- Hardiness: Hard to USDA zones 8 to 11. In colder zones grow as an annual.
- Sun requirements: Full sun. In warmer climates they can benefit from partial shade.
- Soil requirements: Fertile, moist soil with good drainage.
- Planting Time: Late winter all the up to early spring.
- Planting Depth : 2 inches
- Spacing: 3 inches
- Flowering time: Late spring to summer.
- Where to plant: Flower beds, back of borders, and a must have for the cut flower garden.
- How to propagate: The tubers can also be dug, once the tops die back, separated, dried, and stored for planting the following year.
- Deer and rabbit resistant: Yes, ranunculus is both rabbit and deer resistant.
Learn More: How to Grow & Care For Ranunculus
One of the most popular cut flowers renowned for its beautiful and excellent fragrance. The plants bloom prolifically, and each stem may bear as many as 12 flowers. Flowers come in single and double blooms on long stems that may need support.
Freesia is available in several colors: white, yellow, orange, scarlet, pink, royal blue, and lavender.
- Hardiness: USDA zones 9-10.
- Sun requirements: Cool, partial shaded protected spot.
- Soil requirements: Fertile, well draining, moist soils.
- Planting Time: The best time is in early spring after all chances of frost have past.
- Planting Depth: 3 inches
- Spacing: 2-3 inches.
- Flowering time: Mid-summer
- Where to plant: Grow indoors, in garden beds, containers, and in the cut flower garden.
- How to propagate: Freesia can be propagated by seed, or division of corms in the fall.
- Deer and rabbit resistant: Yes, freesia is deer and rabbit resistant.
Bulbs for spring planting : Our Best Planting Tips
Be very, very picky: Be sure to check over your bulbs carefully to ensure none of the bulbs are soft. Good bulbs are firm, plump, and free from holes or bruises.
Planting depth is incredibly important: Bulbs not planted deep enough or planted too deep may not bloom. Therefore, it is essential to verify the planting depth on the package. The depth for planting Dahlia bulbs, for example, varies wildly.
Discard any soft bulbs or bulbs that have holes or blemishes: If any of your bulbs are soft, do not plant them. Soft spots and small holes are an indication that the bulb has pests or diseases.
Label your stored bulbs well: My best tip is to keep your bulb types separate and label them while storing them away. Be sure to indicate the height and color for planning next year’s flower beds.
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Plant summer bulbs in spring after the ground has warmed up and all chances of frost have passed.
Typically you can plant summer bulbs until late May.
There are many bulbs that can be planted in spring that will give you a wild display of colorful blooms in summer. Try planting: Anemone coronaria, tuberous begonias, cannas, calla lilies, crocosmia, dahlias, gladiolus, ranunculus, and freesia.