Bulbs that grow in the spring are planted in the fall. They begin to grow in late winter or early spring, followed by a spring bloom. The term bulb includes not only true bulbs, but also other similar underground root structures, such as corms and tubers. Each bulb is rated to a zone in which it can survive the winters. These zones are determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the lower the number, the colder the climate.
Early Spring Bloomers
Grecian windflower (Anemone blanda), also known as green anemone, is a member of the Ranunculaceae (Buttercup) family and has tuberous roots. It is hardy to zone 6 and has flowers that resemble daisies.
Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) is also a member of the Ranunculaceae family. It is hardy to zone 4 and has small yellow blooms.
Glory of the snow (Chionodoxa lucilia), a true bulb, is a member of the lily family. It is hardy to zone 4 and has clusters of blue flowers that bloom in early spring.
Common grape hyacinth (Muscari botryoides), which is also a member of the lily family, is hardy to zone 4. It blooms purple flowers in clusters of 12 to 20 smaller flowers.
Golden crocus (Crocus chrysanthus) and Dutch crocus (Crocus vernus) are among the earliest spring bloomers. While crocus' roots are often confused with true bulbs, they are in fact corms and are hardy to zone 4.
Common snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) is a true bulb that is a member of the amaryllis family. It is hardy to zone 4. There are many cultivators, including ones with double flowers.
Tulip is a member of the lily family with over 200 cultivators available. They have bulbous roots, and bloom time varies among varieties. Beauty queen, sunray, purple prince and white cascade are just some of the tulips that bloom in early spring. They are generally hardy to zone 3.
Daffodil (Narcissus), a true bulb, is also known as jonquil. It is a member of the amaryllis family and is hardy to zones 4 to 8, depending on the variety. For example, asturiensis is hardy to zone 6, while the cyclamineus variety is hardy to zone 4. Some daffodils may bloom early in the spring, but most bloom a bit later.
Checkered lily or guinea-hen flower (Fritillaria meleagris) and the crown imperial (Fritillaria imperialis) are members of the lily family. They are bulbous plants that are hardy to zone 4. The checkered lily grows to about 15 inches high and the crown imperial can reach the heights of 4 feet.
Tulips that bloom mid-season include the hemisphere, tequila sunrise and Tom Pounce varieties. They are typically hardy to zone 3.
Late Spring Bloomers
Dutch hybrid iris is a member of the Iridaceae family. It is a bulbous plant that is hardy to zone 6. It is a tall plant with flowers 3 to 4 inches wide in varying colors of orange, purple, yellow and blue.
Giant flowering onion (Allium giganteum) is another bulbous plant that is a member of the amaryllis family. It is hardy to zone 5. It grows to be about 3 to 4 feet tall before it blooms in late spring.
Tulips that bloom in late spring include Queen of night black tulip, Maureen, Kingsblood, Dreamland, Menton and Shirley, just to name a few. They are usually hardy to zone 3.