Bulbs are plants, usually perennials, known for storing their total life cycle in an underground, fleshy storage structure. Planting bulbs is an excellent way to give a splash of spring color to a landscape or flower bed. The University of Illinois Extension notes that autumn is the prime time to plant strong spring flowering bulbs and that most bulbs can continue to be planted until the soil freezes.
Crocuses are bulbs with dark green, glassy-looking foliage that has silver tips running down the middle of the leaves. Golden Crocus is an early bloomer with small flowers. Dutch Crocus, the most popular type of crocus, has larger flowers. This bulb grows erect, reaching a height of up to 6 inches tall, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Crocus flowers come in colors of yellow, purple, white or striped, and are usually borne singly. They close at night or under cloudy conditions. Plant crocus bulbs in well-drained soil in full or partial shade.
Daffodils are popular bulbs that flower in spring. Daffodil flowers have outer petals called the perianth and inner ones that are fused into a tube known as the corona. They're hardy bulbs that need little care, since they're not bothered by pests such as deer and other mammals. Although they can grow in most gardens, they do better in well-drained, raised flower beds. The University of Vermont Extension recommends pre-cooling daffodil bulbs before planting them by keeping them moist in an old refrigerator or unheated garage for roughly 10 to 12 weeks. Just don't let the bulbs freeze. Then remove them and plant the bulbs about 6 inches under the soil, giving them plenty of water. Leaves should bloom in a few weeks.
Irises are some of the easiest bulbs to grow with the tall bearded iris being the most popular species. It's called "bearded" because of the furry strip on its three petal-like sepals known as falls. Iris flowers bloom from late spring through early summer. Flowers, which bloom on stalks above the leaves, come in various colors and even in two-toned combinations. The bulb's stiff leaves grow in clumps that are fan-shaped. This type of iris varies in height from miniature dwarf sizes that are only up to 10 inches to varieties as tall as 15 to 27 inches high, according to the Rhode Island Extension. Irises need a well-balanced fertilizer and sufficient water in the spring when flower buds start developing, as well as during blooming.
Gladiolus are colorful bulbs offering a wide variety of colors that range from almost black to white, with just about all shades of color in between. They grow from 2 to 5 feet high and have trumpet-shaped blossoms that are borne in a double row along the plant's stem. These bulbs usually bloom from July until the first frost. North Dakota State University Extension advises planting different varieties and spacing the planting dates for enjoying continual color throughout the summer. Gladiolus need plenty of sun, water and well-drained soil.