Few things indicate the coming of spring and warm weather more vividly than spring-flowering bulbs. Daffodils, tulips and other brightly-colored blossoms begin emerging in March and April (depending on your growing zone) and continue through June. Spring-flowering bulbs are good choices for early color under trees, as they bloom before trees fully leaf out. Early bulbs, such as crocus and snowdrops, are also well-suited to lawns because they spread easily year after year and finish blooming long before it's time to mow the grass. Spring-flowering bulbs are planted in the fall, before the first frost, in USDA growing zones 3 through 9.
One of the most popular spring-flowering bulbs, Daffodils (formally "narcissus") are a collection of more than 50 species of spring-blooming, trumpet-shaped flowers on slender stalks. The most common variety of these produce bright yellow blossoms, but daffodils can be while, pale yellow and even light pink in hue. Daffodils are great naturalizers and will grow larger each season without being dug up in the spring and replanted in the fall. These plants grow from large onion-shaped bulbs and thrive in USDA growing zones 3 through 9.
Another popular spring-flowering bulb, tulips have been delighting gardeners since they were introduced in Holland in the late 16th century. Native to North Africa, the Middle East and Asia Minor, tulips are a genus of more than 150 species. These plants vary greatly and produce a wide range of colored blossoms; some--so-called parrot tulips--are even variegated. Most tulips benefit from being dug up after they bloom, stored in a cool and dark place, and replanted in the fall before the first frost.
One of the first flowers to blossom each spring, Snowdrops (formally, "galanthus") are a collection of 20 species of flowers. Native to Europe, these plants with white, teardrop-shaped flowers naturalize well in North American growing zones 4-7. Snowdrops grow from small bulbs, planted in the fall, and bloom in late February to early March, depending on the area. These plants generally grow to be around four to six inches tall, although some species can grow to 10 inches.
Native to Europe, Asia and the Middle East, crocus have adapted well to North American gardens. Grown from small corms, crocus have more than 80 species and prefer meadows and woodland areas. in home gardens, these flowers bloom early--usually in March and April--and are well-suited for planting under trees. Crocus naturalize (multiply and spread) well and produce yellow, white, purple and lavender, lily-like blossoms.