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What Spring Bulbs to Plant in Northern California

Spring bulbs to plant in northern California need to be hardy in zones 7 to 9 with zone 6 in the northeastern part of California. These are zones comparable to Georgia and Florida, so a tropical warm season flower or plant is best suited. Soil conditions will vary by plant, but average temperatures will dictate a plant cannot be lower than zone 7 (zone 6 in NE California).


The gladiolus (Gladiolus spp.) is from the Iridaceae, or iris family. It is a perennial with 180 species. They can range from 3 to 6 feet tall with flowers on a spike in a range of colors. Leaves are sword shaped. Plant a gladiolus bulb in full sun or it can tolerate partial shade. Soil should be fertile and well drained. Propagate via spring seed or by separating the cormlets. Mulch these plants well in zones 6 and 7.


The tulip (Tulipa spp.) is from the Liliaceae, or lily family. It is a perennial with basal leaves and (mostly) cup shaped flowers. Flowers can be single or double blooms. All colors are available but blue. Plant a tulip bulb in neutral soil with full sun. Fertilizer for tulips should be low nitrogen and high in potassium and phosphorus. Soils should be well drained. Propagate via offset bulbs.


The hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) is from the Liliaceae, or lily, family. It is a fragrant perennial with more than 60 different cultivars. Leaves are strap like with a foot tall stalk. Funnel shaped flowers can be single or double and in the hues of red, blue, lavender, pink, white, yellow or orange. Plant a hyacinth bulb in full sun in zone 6 and partial shade for zones 7 and 8. Propagate via offsets in late summer.

Grape Hyacinth

The grape hyacinth (Muscari spp.) is from the Liliaceae, or lily, family. It is a fragrant easy growing perennial. There are about 40 separate species with straplike leaves and urn like flowers one inch long. Flowers are mostly blue although there are species with different colors. Plant a grape hyacinth bulb in organic well drained soil in full sun. Propagate this by seed or by offsets.


The canna (Canna x generalis) is from the Cannaceae, or canna, family. It is a fast and easy growing perennial that get 30 inches to 8 feet depending on cultivar. Flowers are showy and have a wide variety of colors. Leaves are wide and thick. Plant a canna bulb in sun or partial shade in moist soil. Propagate via rhizome division.

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