Top 10 spring flowering bulbs

Narcissus 'Golden King Alfred' from Thompson & Morgan

Daffodils are just one of many spring flowering bulbs to brighten your borders
Image: Narcissus 'Golden King Alfred' from Thompson & Morgan

There's nothing like a patch of gently nodding golden daffodils to raise your spirits. But daffodils aren’t the only spring bulbs to herald an end to dark winter days and bring colour to the garden. For inspiration, we’ve rounded up ten of our favourite spring flowering bulbs to catapult your garden into life and celebrate the change of season.

When to plant spring flowering bulbs

Knowing when to plant spring bulbs is important to guarantee a good display. Begin planting your spring flowering bulbs, corms and tubers between October and December, before the coldest winter weather sets in. You can plant them in containers or straight into borders, but as a rule of thumb, most bulbs should be planted at 3 times their depth. There are a few exceptions, so it's worth checking the planting depth table in our 'How to grow bulbs' article before you begin.

1. Crocus

Yellow, purple and white crocus 'Botanical Mix' from Thompson & Morgan

Create a compact display in containers or informal groupings in lawns and borders
Image: Crocus 'Botanical Mix' from Thompson & Morgan

Jewel-like crocus flowers look sensational planted in large naturalised swathes throughout lawns and rockeries. Try Crocus 'Ruby Giant', a weather-resistant variety of purple flowers that bloom as early as February and provide a valuable source of nectar for pollinating insects in wildlife-friendly gardens.

2. Daffodil

Yellow Narcissus 'Cupped' variety from Thompson & Morgan

Try Narcissus 'Cupped' for a reliable performance year after year
Image: Narcissus 'Cupped' from Thompson & Morgan

A well loved genus, and for good reason! Daffodils are the cheeriest of spring bulbs, with their delicate trumpeted blooms and bright colours. Traditional golden daffodils are hard to beat, but if you’d like something a little different, why not try the pink and frilly Narcissus 'Replete' or some lovely scented daffodils.

3. Tulip

Yellow and red tulips from Thompson & Morgan

Tulip 'Fire Wings' comes back year after year
Image: Tulip 'Fire Wings' from Thompson & Morgan

With so many shapes and colours available, it's hard to choose just one type of tulip bulb to grow. If you really can’t decide, treat yourself to the brightly-coloured 'Everlasting Mix' that has been bred for long-lasting weather resistance.

For a unique display, the striking stripy flowers of Tulip 'Flaming Club' make a real statement when planted en masse. Or keep early spring weeds at bay with a dense carpet of Tulip 'Ground Cover' Mix.

4. Snakes Head Fritillary

Fritillaria meleagris (Mixed) from Thompson & Morgan

These bell shaped flowers are instantly recognisable yet rarely seen in the wild
Image: Thompson & Morgan

Instantly recognizable by their distinctive snake-skin markings, Fritillaria meleagris is at its best when grown in areas of damp woodlands or informal areas of grass. Although native to the UK, Snakes Head Fritillaries are now protected and rarely seen in the wild so it's a real joy to admire these elegant flowers in your garden.

5. Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley from Thompson & Morgan

Lily of the Valley provides low-maintenance ground cover for shady areas.
Copyright: Visions BV, Netherlands

Positively thriving in damp, shady areas, the delicate white blooms of Lily of the Valley brighten even the gloomiest corners of your garden. Once established, this springtime favourite forms a lush green carpet of foliage that makes excellent ground cover. And for a grand finale, this tiny flower packs a real punch when it comes to perfume. Ideal for scented spring posies.

6. Hyacinth

Hyacinth 'Gypsy Queen' from Thompson & Morgan

Hyacinth 'Gypsy Queen' are perfect for forcing indoors
Copyright: Visions BV, Netherlands

Easy to grow, the Hyacinth has a powerful fragrance and majestic, upright flowers that are simply magnificent. Although they’re often grown in pots on the windowsill, Hyacinths are surprisingly hardy and well suited for growing outdoors in a sunny spot. Try the rare and highly sought-after Hyacinth 'Midnight Mystique' for its unusual black flowers.

If you’re looking for growing tips or want to raise a few to give away as Christmas presents, check out our article on how to grow Hyacinths.

7. Winter Aconite

Winter Aconite from Thompson & Morgan

Winter Aconite forms a glowing carpet of golden yellow flowers each spring
Image: Winter Aconite from Thompson & Morgan

Despite its common name, Winter Aconite flowers in the spring and attracts bees and other beneficial pollinating insects to your garden. A woodland member of the buttercup family, Eranthis hyemalis swiftly multiplies to form a carpet of golden yellow flowers. The cup shaped blooms work beautifully alongside snowdrops and bluebells for a spectacular display.

Easy to establish and virtually maintenance free, Winter Aconite is the ideal bulb to plant in the dappled shade of deciduous trees, or informally in grass.

8. Bluebell

Winter Aconite from Thompson & Morgan

Delicately scented, hardy English bluebells attract pollinating insects
Image: English Bluebells from Thompson & Morgan

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 flowers.

9. Puschkinia

Puschkinia (Russian Snowdrop) from Thompson & Morgan

Russian Snowdrops make a stunning alternative to traditional spring bulbs
Copyright: Visions BV, Netherlands

Also known as the Russian Snowdrop, the intriguing star-shaped flowers of Puschkinia have white petals striped with 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 planted beneath the ghostly stems of Silver Birch trees.

10. Allium

Allium 'Graceful Beauty' from Thompson & Morgan

Allium 'Graceful Beauty' flowers in late spring, returning with a bigger and better display each year
Image: Allium amplectens 'Graceful Beauty' from Thompson & Morgan

Plant Allium bulbs to add height and structure to borders and bridge the gap between early spring blooms and your summer favourites. For a dramatic display at the front of borders or in containers try Allium 'Graceful Beauty' - This showy little allium has already proved itself to be a worthwhile variety with its large, starry blooms forming spherical flower heads in spring.

If you’ve been inspired to try something new, check out our range of colourful and easy to grow spring bulbs. Tell us your favourite bulb or unusual planting combination, and don’t forget to share your photos! Find variety specific growing guides and expert advice articles at our hub page, and learn how to grow your own spectacular spring bulb displays.

Sue Sanderson T&M horticulturalist

Written by: Sue Sanderson

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.

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