Who can fail to be cheered by a patch of golden daffodils bathing in spring sunshine, or a vase of colourful tulips picked fresh from the garden? Spring bulbs herald an end to dark winter days, bringing a welcome splash of colour to the garden when few other plants are in flower.
Knowing when to plant spring bulbs is important for the best displays. Begin to plant spring flowering bulbs, corms and tubers in borders and containers between October and December, before the coldest winter weather sets in. As a rule of thumb, most bulbs should be planted at 3 times their depth, but there are a few exceptions so it’s worth checking our planting depth table in our ‘How to grow bulbs’ article.
There are plenty of spring bulbs to choose from, but if you need some inspiration take a look at our top 10 pick of bulbs that flower in spring.
These jewel-like crocus flowers look sensational planted in large naturalised swathes throughout lawns and rockeries. Try crocus cancellatus, an unusual and sought-after variety from Turkey with delicate-looking blooms.
A well loved genus, and for good reason! Daffodils are the cheeriest of spring bulbs, with their frilly trumpeted blooms and bright colours. Traditional golden daffodils are hard to beat, but if you like something a little different, why not try frilly pink Narcissus ‘Replete’ or some lovely scented daffodils.
With so many shapes and colours available, it’s hard to choose just one variety of Tulip to grow, so treat yourself to our Everlasting Mix for a full range of colours. Take a look at the double flowers and stunning colour of Tulip ‘Purple Wow’. Keep early spring weeds at bay with a dense carpet of Tulip ‘Ground Cover’ Mix.
Instantly recognizable by their distinctive snakes-skin markings, Fritillaria meleagris is at its best when grown in areas of damp, meadow-like grass. Although native to the UK, Snakes Head Fritillaries are now protected and rarely seen in the wild, so it’s well worth planting a group in your garden.
Famed for its breath taking perfume and sprays of elegant white flowers. Once established, Lily of the Valley forms a lush green carpet of foliage that makes excellent ground cover for a damp, shady spot. The foliage always looks particularly pretty jewelled with raindrops after a light spring shower.
The powerful fragrance of the Hyacinth is not to everyone’s liking, but their majestic, upright flowers are simply magnificent. Although they are often grown in pots on the windowsill, Hyacinths are surprisingly hardy and well equipped for outdoor cultivation. Try Hyacinth ‘Midnight Mystique’ for its enigmatic black flowers.
Despite its name winter aconite flowers into spring and attracts bees and other beneficial pollinating insects to your garden. The delightful flowers form a golden carpet each spring and are practically maintenance free.
Carpets of classic woodland Bluebells create a magical sight in spring as the weather warms and days begin to lengthen. English Bluebells thrive in damp, shady areas but are surprisingly resilient, even in drought conditions. Always choose English Bluebells as the Spanish variety can become invasive and hybridise with our native Bluebells.
Also known as the Russian Snowdrop, the white star-shaped flowers of Puschkinia are striped in the most extraordinary shade of blue. These resilient spring bulbs love a sunny spot where they can bake in the sun throughout summer. They look exceptionally pretty as an under planting beneath the ghostly stems of Silver Birch trees.
Pleione formosana is a surprisingly hardy orchid that you can grow either on a windowsill or in a sheltered border outside. It's very easy to grow and the delightful blooms will come back year after year.
Plants and gardens have always been a big part of my life. I can remember helping my Dad to prick out seedlings, even before I could see over the top of the potting bench. As an adult, I trained at Writtle College where I received my degree, BSc. (Hons) Horticulture. After working in a specialist plantsman's nursery, and later, as a consulting arboriculturalist, I joined Thompson & Morgan in 2008. Initially looking after the grounds and coordinating the plant trials, I now support the web team offering horticultural advice online.