Bulbs are one of the easiest ways to add beauty and color to your flower beds, woodland or prairie landscapes, yards, and home gardens. You won’t have to worry about germinating seeds. Additionally, if you want to treat your bulb flower list as annuals you add back in each year, you will have a very minimal need for fertilizer. As a bonus, many of the additions to our bulb flower list thrive on being neglected, so they’re perfect for beginner gardeners.
Almost everything on our bulb flower list will do well in neutral to mildly acidic pH levels between 7.0 and 5.5. They will all need good drainage, and most of them require a steady moisture source during the active growing season. Flowers you grow from bulbs are at risk from pests like gophers, voles, moles, armadillos, and moles. Slugs and snails are also concerns, but insect pests aren’t usually something you worry about.
The winter hardiness requirements of the plants on this bulb flowers list gets described in the traditional USDA hardiness zones. You may also need to know the botanical name for the plant to make sure you’re picking out the right one in your local garden center.
A lot of people choose to organize their bulb flower beds according to season. We’re going to look at some of the prettiest bulb flowers available on the current market, and you can decide which ones will brighten up your garden this spring.
Even though many people are intimidated by the thought of growing bulb flowers, they can be a very beginner-friendly option for most gardeners, depending on your planting zone. Toowoomba Flower Garden by John / CC BY-SA 2.0
1. Acidanthera (Acidanthera bicolor Murielae)
The first entry on the bulb flower list is a close relative to the more popular gladiolus. It’s a beautiful plant that won’t ever take center stage in your garden, but it can help add tiny pops of color or for framing larger plants in your summer garden. This plant won’t survive the winter months outside unless you live in zones 8 or 9. You’ll have to plant this bulb three to five inches down in the ground during the late spring months if your location is north of these zones. If you live in zone 8 or 9, adjust this to two inches down.
Unlike others on the bulb flowers list, this one isn’t too concerned about the pH levels in the soil, but they do need full sun and excellent drainage. You should feed them every four weeks with liquid fertilizer and keep them well-watered when they’re actively growing. If you live in an area with colder winters, you can dig up the corms and bring them indoors before the first frost hits. You also want to protect the plants from slugs and snails.
2. Agapanthus (Agrapanthus species)
This plant doesn’t produce an umbel of flowers with very small stems. Instead, it blooms with hundreds of individual white, purple, or blue flowers on top of a main stem to create a stunning blue and purple display. When you divide this plant at the end of the natural growing season, you’ll get a bigger flower display next spring in your garden.
This plant does best in zones 9 to 11 when you plant it outside. In colder climates, you can add this plant on the bulb flowers list as one to consider an annual. You can plant it as soon as the last frost of the year finishes. It can survive a very light winter frost if you have a decent layer of mulch. After the plant dies down during the fall months, you can cut the croms to narrow points, divide your plants into two or three sections, and replant them for next spring.
3. Amaryllis (Amaryllis belladonna L.)
This plant on the bulb flower list blooms during the late summer and fall months. You can get pink, purple, or white flowers that have stunning crimson veins and a very fragrant scent. You shouldn’t confuse this plant with a very similar houseplant called the amaryllis because it’s a different plant family.
This plant is native to Africa, and it’s best suited to plant outside in zones 6 to 8. It likes to grow under an inch of mulch, and you should water it when the foliage is still green but take the water away when the leaves die to trigger blooms. You can propagate this plant by digging up the bulbs and dividing them after the plant goes dormant in the autumn months, or you can separate the offshoots as they appear.
4. Autumn Crocus (Crocus sativus L.)
Some crocus species are the first to flower in the spring. This particular species on the bulb flower list is one of the last to bloom during the fall. However, the care requirements are the same, no matter which species you get. If you’re very patient, the reward of growing this plant, you’ll get a crop of saffron that you can dry.
5. Caladium (Caladium bicolor)
This is a very showy, large plant that is very prized for the color of the leaves, and the flowers also add nice interest. Anyone in USDA zones 10 and 11 can have this addition to the bulb flower list outside in beds around houses. If you’re a gardener in a colder climate, you can set them out each spring to get color throughout the summer months.
Technically speaking, this plant grows from a tuber instead of a bulb. You should lift and store them inside before the first frost hits and replant them during the spring months, unless you don’t get frost in your area. All parts of this plant are poisonous to people and pets. A lot of people like to grow them as potted plants.
Instead of being prized for flowers, this plant is prized for the foliage. You’ll get large bicolored leaves, and it thrives in partial to full sun. Caladium bicolor by Carl Lewis / CC BY 2.0
6. Camassia (Camassia quamash (Pursh) Greene)
It’s common to see whole meadows blooming with this six-petalled flower. Native Americans once used the bulbs as a flour source, but you shouldn’t do this. A plant that looks very similar to this one is highly toxic. The best use of this plant on the flower bulb list is for landscaping. You can set a few hundred bulbs out in a damp meadow and allow them to take over within a few years. It works very well when you plant it in the American Northwest.
7. Canna (Canna species)
There isn’t a much easier plant to grow on the bulb flower list than the canna. It towers between waist and head high, and the leaves resemble a banana. It produces stalks of long-lasting flowers, and it’s a temperate-zone relative of the bird of paradise and the ginger plant. It needs very little in the way of maintenance except regular watering to give you a flowery show for weeks. These flowers were mostly red originally, but hybridization allows you to get them in a range of colors.
There are gardeners who have managed to grow this entry on the bulb flower list from the equator to north of the Arctic Circle, and they’ve also grown them throughout the Southern Hemisphere. As long as you can give this plant six to eight hours of sunlight each day without any freezing temperatures, they’ll bloom. However, you should be aware that they like to make themselves a permanent home in your garden. They’re very tricky to remove once they establish themselves.
8. Chilly Lily (Zephyranthes species)
Almost all tulips will bloom during the spring months. However, these drought-resistant, heat-loving American flowers will start to come up out of the ground and bloom after there are cool showers at the end of a summer drought. In less than a week, the foliage and blossoms vanish and they sink back under the ground for another year.
It’s very hard to go wrong with this plant on the bulb flower list. They do well in alkaline, rugged soil, and they don’t need any attention for the majority of the year. You can buy this plant as a dry bulb, but it’s better to buy them in pots. Potting the plant once it blooms and the leaves die lets the bulb keep growing under the soil. It’s a member of the Amaryllis family, and you can plant it at any time during the year. Just don’t forget where you plant them while you wait for the showy pink, white, or red coloring.
9. Colchicum (Colchicum autumnale)
This fall-blooming plant on the bulb flower list pops out of the ground without any foliage before it blooms, and this is where the nickname Naked Lady came from. They are very similar looking to crocuses, but they have stamens while crocuses have three. The flowers come around in the fall months, but the strap-like foliage will only come around in the spring. Growing and caring for this plant is just like caring for a crocus.
10. Crocus (Crocus sativus L.)
Crocuses are one of the first bulb flowers to start blooming during the spring months. In areas with cold winters, it’s not unusual to see them poking up through the winter snow. They’re deer and rabbit-resistant, and they work well in mass plantings. There is a crocus species that will bloom during the fall months and produce saffron, but if you want to produce saffron for yourself, you’ll need patience. It takes 3,000 flowers worth of stamens to make an ounce of saffron.
The secret to successfully growing this plant is that you can’t mow them down before they have a chance to store up a year’s worth of energy in the bulbs and the foliage has died back. You can plant them in virtually any soil in any location, but they can’t survive in dense shade or in areas by your house’s foundation without gutters. You want to plant them two to three times deeper than the bulb is tall, and six to eight weeks before the first freeze of the autumn.
The crocus is a very popular and pretty plant that heralds the arrival of spring for many people. They shoot up from the ground and display eye-catching colors with dark green foliage. Crocus by oatsy40 / CC BY 2.0
11. Daffodil (Narcissus poeticus. L.)
If you need a bulb that you can plant in mass plantings without having to work to protect the flowers in the spring from deer, this is a great pick. This bulb flower list addition is one some gardeners plant in groups of 20,000 to bring a huge display in the spring months. Daffodils also produce daughter bulbs that get attached to the main flower bulb and will slowly fill in a mass planting by itself without any extra input from the gardener.
Most plants like slightly acidic to neutral oil, but there are some that love alkalinity. So, you have to make sure you get the bulb that matches your soil type. All daffodils are prone to developing issues with rot when the soil is too wet, so put them in a location that drains well. They should get planted roughly 1 ½ to two times their height under the soil. If the ground freezes in your location, switch this to five times their height.
12. Dahlia (Dahlia pinnata Cav.)
Mexico has the dahlia as the national flower. It’s a sunflower relative that grows from tubers. They were once a huge food source for the Aztecs. Today, the dahlia is a fan favorite for summer gardens in zones 8 to 11. They come in a huge range of colors and configurations that can add visual interest to your space. There are blossoms that resemble cacti, waterlilies, pompoms, peonies, and orchids in roughly 14 shapes.
This entry on the bulb flower list is very prone to damage from slugs, snails, and earwings. They also easily develop issues with fungus, mildew, and bacterial wilt diseases. If you live in an area where the ground freezes during the winter months, you’ll have to dig them up and store them in a dry, cool place until the frost recedes during the spring months.
13. Daylily (Hemerocallis species)
The three-petaled, trumpet-like flowers of this plant will only last for a single day, but each plant has multiple blooms day in and day out during the spring and summer months. The flower usually blooms early in the morning and withers at night, and a new flower replaces it in the morning. Some dishes like moo shu pork or hot and sour soup have this plant, but it’s fatal for cats. This includes the pollen.
You can find this plant in a huge array of colors. They are orange, yellow, and pale pink naturally, but the hybrid versions come in lavender, green, red, purple, and near black coloring. You can include them in a seemingly endless array of garden designs. They will grow nicely in almost any soil, and they grow in sun or shaded conditions. Pink and yellow varieties need full sun in the morning to bring out the coloring. However, purple, red, and white daylilies aren’t colorfast in full sun. They like to get shade in the afternoon. You’ll need moist but well-drained soil, and you can divide the croms in winter for a bigger group next spring.
14. Eremurus (Eremurus species)
This plant on the bulb flower list is from Afghanistan, and it’s a very hardy plant. You can also find it growing throughout the Himalayas, and it produces brilliant white flower spikes that tower over your garden during the late summer months. They can get up to 10 feet tall. You should plant them in an area that gets full sun and is protected from the wind. The soil should be well-fertilized but well-drained.
15. Gladiolus (Gladiolus communis L.)
This plant is one of the most popular summer-blooming bulb flowers. You get a wobbly stem with a very fragrant flower, and they come in dozens of shades and colors. This makes it easy to find the one that is going to suit your garden the best. They usually bloom throughout the summer months, just like the iris relatives.
This plant on the bulb flower list is more finicky when it comes to the pH levels in the soil. It needs slightly acidic soil between 6.0 and 7.0, and they need regular watering sessions and fertilizer before and after they bloom. They are very successful summer plants in zones 2 to 10, but you should dig up the bulbs and store them if your winters get colder than zone 7.
These tall flower spikes are very eye-catching in your garden, and they can also add a welcome texture. Gladiolus by Helena Jacoba / CC BY 2.0
16. Hyacinth (Hyacinthus litwinowii Tourn. ex L., Hyacinthus orientalis Tourn. ex L., Hyacinthus transcaspicus . Tourn. ex L.)
The hyacinth is a symbol of rebirth and spring in the Middle East. This is a very popular spring bulb planting, or you can have it grow indoors all year round. The common form of this plant comes with a single flower spike in pink, violet, blue, yellow, or white flowers that last for days to weeks when they bloom. They need excellent drainage with bright but indirect lighting. Also, always wear gloves when you handle this plant as it’s toxic.
17. Hymenocallis (Hymenocallis littoralis (Jacq.) Salisb.)
This very uniquely shaped red or white flower blooms during the late summer or early fall months in bogs and marshes in the eastern portion of the United States. You can grow them as an annual almost anywhere. They can grow well in moist locations as perennials, as long as the ground doesn’t freeze during the winter months. In the United States, they can grow year-round up to southwestern Indiana.
18. Iris (iris germanica L.)
Irises will bloom from the early spring months until late summer. The petals work nicely as a landing pad for butterflies and bees, and this attracts them to your garden. Irises come in a range of colors, and they grow under a host of different conditions without or with beards. If you don’t live in the desert or the Arctic, you’ll most likely be able to grow an iris or two.
There are over 30,000 iris cultivars currently, so you have to find the correct one for your space. You will need to put them in a gritty, shallow soil for them to do well. When you first plant them, you need to put your croms in a sunny location with the root showing right at the top of the soil. You shouldn’t have to do anything with them until the fall unless you plan to divide them for your friends or family.
19. Liatris (Liatris spicata Gaertn. ex Schreb.)
This is a pretty addition to any fall garden because it’s a huge attraction for butterflies. Butterflies will feed on this plant’s nectar that it produces by the blue flower spikes as they move toward their winter homes. This plant on the bulb flower list can get up to five feet tall, and it makes a nice green background in the spring and summer months. After it blooms during the fall months, it offers a golden coloring in the background.
You’ll get a cold-hardy plant to zones 5 to 9, and it can survive winters in zones 3 and 4 if you add a thicker layer of mulch around it. The flower will grow in different types of soils, including rocky ones as long as it gets full sun.
20. Lily of the Valley (Convolaria majalis L.)
Lilies of the valley are a very cool climate plant that produces pretty whtie flower stalks during the spring months. They like sandy or silty soil, and they do best in a higher alkaline soil with a pH of 8 to 8.5, unlike most of the other entries on the bulb flower list. All parts of this plant are poisonous to people and plants. If you eat the red berries, they can cause your heart rate to drop to dangerous levels and it requires immediate medical attention.
These tiny flowers come in shades of blue or white, and they stay very low to the ground with darker green foliage. Lily of the Valley by Todd Petit / CC BY-NC 2.0
21. Muscari (Muscari species)
This is a group of roughly a dozen plants that you may hear called bluebells or bluebonnets. However, in the United States, bluebonnets are a small lupine that is native to the Southwest too. You get a very dependable show during the late spring months with this plant. It does best in sandy, well-drained soil. It’ll naturalize and multiply quickly enough to take over your landscape in a few years if you don’t contain it. They like light shade or sun, and they don’t need much in the way of water or fertilizer during the summer. The seeds can cause severe skin irritation.
22. Scilla (Scilla species)
This very delicate alpine plant gives you some of the first blooms each spring. They need to be planted in a shady location that stays relatively moist without being waterlogged. You can treat them like an annual to get reliable blooms each spring. If you allow them to naturalize under the trees, you’ll get a much flashier show during the spring months.
23. Tigridia (Tigridia pavonia (L.f.) Redouté)
The Aztecs called this entry on the bulb flower list the jaguar flower or tigridia ocēlōxōchitl. The name of the flower, no matter which language it’s in, showcases the plant’s tiger-like coloring with spots. You’ll have to spend a lot of time outside to appreciate this plant. Each bloom will only last one day, but you can have several blooms at one time. Cultivating this plant is the same as the iris.
24. Tuberous Begonia (Begonia x tubeohybrida)
Tuberous begonias are one of the easiest entries on this bulb flower list to grow in shaded spots during the summer months. They bloom throughout the summer in deeply shaded spots where most plants won’t survive. This begonia type comes in white, red, yellow, orange, salmon, or pink, and the blooms can be double, single, toothed, ruffled, or plain. The petals can have margins, crests, or blotches of colors.
It tolerates some late afternoon or early morning sun, but they do require shade for most of the day. They will dry out very easily, and you’ll have to water them if it doesn’t rain for a week or so. This plant is a very heavy feeder that needs several fertilizer applications throughout the growing season.
25. Tulip (Tulipa species)
The final plant on the bulb flower list is the tulip. A lot of gardeners regard this plant as the early spring garden’s jewel, and there is a tulip for every garden design. You can integrate smaller Asian tulips into woodland landscapes, and there are giant hybrid versions that can easily dominate formal plantings. Each tulip has a single flower on a stem with dark-green, long leaves. This is a perennial that will come back each year, but you can guarantee that you’ll get a show in the spring by planting new bulbs each fall.
If you live in climates warmer than zones 7 or 8, the tulips won’t do well during the summer heat, so you’ll have to treat them like an annual. They like to be in places that get full sun or afternoon sun at the least. You’ll have to have neutral or slightly acidic soil that is sandy and offers excellent drainage. Shelter your plants from the wind.
We’ve added 25 stunning plants to our bulb flowers list, and you can easily mix and match them based on your planting zone to get stunning colors and textures from spring to the end of the fall months. As a bonus, a lot of them are very low-maintenance, and they’re excellent for beginner gardeners.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.