Your Year Around Flower and Garden Guide

All About Bulbs: Selecting Bulbs → Healthy Bulbs → Planting Spring Flowering BulbsFall Flowering Bulbs

Choose Healthy Bulbs

Before purchasing any bulbs, know the differences in bulb types.

Tulip Bulb GardenChoosing the right bulbs involves more than just selecting colors and cultivars. Type, timing, bulb size, and most importantly, bulb health are equally significant factors in designing your spring garden.

"Bulb" Types

Along with true bulbs, several types of flowers, sold as bulbs, grow from the underground stem growth of rhizomes, tubers, and corms.

Bulb Health

The first part in selecting healthy bulbs is knowing the bulb parts.

Bulb Size

"The bigger the bulb, the bigger the bloom" is a double-edged tip for selecting bulbs.

First, it helps you select cultivars and decide where to place them in your spring flower garden. For instance, crocus and anemone bulbs are tiny imps that beg a front row or outside border seat, while giant tulip or daffodil bulbs stand tall in back rows or keep watch over the center of your garden.

Second, larger bulbs, within a particular cultivar, are generally more robust than smaller bulbs and produce stronger, healthier plants and blooms.


When choosing bulbs for a spring flower garden, consider both when they need to be planted as well as when you want them to appear.

Most spring bulbs need to be planted in late summer or autumn. However, the reasons for the timing in planting spring bulbs usually aren't relative to when the bulbs sprout in the spring. Rather, bulbs usually need to be planted when it is cool enough to keep them from sprouting, but warm enough to allow roots to become established before winter.

All spring bulbs need a cool weather rest period below 50F in order to sprout successfully. If your climate is warm, you'll need to provide them with a simulated winter before planting them.

Although crocuses and windflowers are tiny, they are brave little imps and often the first heralds of spring. Generally, they'll be followed by smaller tulip cultivars and narcissus. Still, even some of the larger daffodils and giant tulip hybrids may surprise you with an early appearance. The best way to try to synchronize bulb growth with your garden plan is to check the growth patterns of each individual cultivar before purchasing and planting the bulbs.