The most inexpensive flowering bulbs for the yard or garden are likely to be the more common bulb varieties. Many are available in the garden centers of big box stores; some may be available at no cost through plant exchanges with local gardening groups or close neighbors; others may be available to dig in rural areas or on public land. Often, the purchase of these bulbs pays for itself over time, as initial sets will produce many additional bulbs over the years.
Plant daffodils in the fall for a good show in the spring, and the bulbs will have time to establish their roots before the harshest weather sets in. Choose a spot beneath overhanging tree branches that will allow the plants to receive some sun, or place them in a location that will have direct sun in the spring. Daffodils are troubled by few diseases or pests, so you are unlikely to lose bulbs and need to replace them.
The bulbs need to be divided or thinned about every three years, giving some gardeners more than they can plant and making them easy to obtain. While some gardeners prefer to group a large number of bulbs together for a better show, you can save labor and disturbance to the plants by planting the bulbs in singles or smaller groupings and allowing them to fill in over time.
Gardeners can choose from among 80 colorful species of lily, some with scent and some without. Asiatic lilies are very tolerant of a variety of soils and easy to grow. They are scented lilies ranging from 2 to 6 feet tall.
Plant lily bulbs in fall or spring. Like many bulbs, they are at risk of rot in persistently soggy ground, so do not plant lilies in very wet areas. After the first show of flowers, deadhead the stems to encourage more blooms to appear.
According to the University of Minnesota Extension, lilies are bothered by slugs, rabbits and some pests and diseases but are hardy and low-maintenance overall. Lilies don't need to be protected for winter, but a layer of mulch will not hurt them.
Tulips, along with many other bulbs, can be planted outdoors or indoors and forced to bloom. Tulips come in hundreds of varieties, with blooming periods that range from early spring through late spring. In many areas--particularly warm climates--the bulbs will only perform well for a single season and need to be replaced the following year.
Plant the bulbs outdoors in the fall anytime up until the soil begins to freeze. Purdue University Extension Service warns against planting the bulbs early in the fall, as they may attempt to send up foliage when there are several weeks between planting and a hard freeze.