During my first season starting a flower garden, one of the first things I noticed was that I didn’t have a lot of spring or fall flowers. And coming out of a dark, gray Pacific Northwest winter, I was dearly aching for cheery blooms.
The following year, I made it a point to have flowers as early as possible and I began investing in bulbs such as tulips, narcissus, and daffodils. I also bought anemones and ranunculus corms.
Bulbs are some of the easiest to care for flowers because many varieties only need to be planted once and they don’t need a lot of attention or maintenance. Because they bloom in spring, when the weather is mild and wet, we don’t even have to water them. Once their leaves die back, it’s easy to forget that they are even there, until next spring when suddenly the blooms burst from the soil again!
Bulb Planting Tips
- If you wish for early spring blooms, plan to plant your flower bulbs in the fall. Begin ordering your bulbs in late summer and start preparing areas in your garden where these bulbs can be planted. I ordered my bulbs through Holland Bulbs Farm, Breck’s, & Bulbs Direct.
- Most bulbs also do quite well in containers, so you can start them in pots if you’re unsure of where to plant them.
- When considering the location of your bulbs, keep in mind deer and gophers. Daffodils are especially wonderful because they are poisonous to deer!
- Make sure you plant the bulbs deep enough. Most bulb companies will include planting instructions with plant depth guides for you to follow.
My favorite spring flowers that I’ve successfully grown this year are:
Fancy Fringed Tulips
Unlike regular tulips, these tulips have petals that look almost like they’ve been sheared. I love the unexpected texture and it’s so unique. My favorite variety is “Signature Fringed Tulip” which is pure white and absolutely stunning.
I love that anemones are “cut and come again” flowers. Meaning that they keep flowering from early spring through summer, providing tons of gorgeous blooms. A quick tip for planting anemones: soak the corms in water the night before to give them a little boost before going into the ground. Their stems will be quite short when they first bloom, but they will lengthen over time. “Panda” anemone is a lovely white anemone with indigo blue centers that are often used in bridal bouquets.
These sweet smelling flowers can instantly brighten up a room with their intoxicating fragrance. They have tall stems with a cluster of 4-6 blooms and they have a long vase life. My favorite narcissus variety is “Sir Winston Churchill” which has lovely white double blooms with yellow centers. I plan to expand my crop of narcissus next year because I love them so much.
Ranunculus are delicate rose like flowers that come in a wide range of colors, including green. Like anemones, these are also “cut and come again” flowers and will bloom continuously for a few months. Last year, I also discovered that they make great dried flowers too, retaining the colors much better than roses. I’m especially fond of this picotee ranunculus!
These cheery flowers were the first of the bulbs to bloom and boy, were they a sight for sore eyes! Did you know there’s an adage that says when daffodil blooms, it’s time to plant potatoes? They’re also deer-resistant and quite easy to naturalize. A friend of mine planted a few bulbs in her garden and after a few years, they’ve multiplied and spread all over.
Most bulbs and corms can be “lifted” from the soil and saved to be replanted if you live in very cold areas where flowers such as anemones and ranunculus cannot tolerate heavy frost. For bulbs like daffodils, narcissus, and tulips, you can simply leave them in the ground and enjoy their return every spring.