Springtime flowering bulbs get a lot of attention, but there are bulbs that bloom in summer and autumn, too. Flowering bulbs, which are planted individually and may be annuals, biennials, or perennials, produce a wide variety of blooms and foliage. Bulbs work beautifully in flower beds or containers, and can be used to accent other plants or make a stunning statement when grouped together. Choosing the right flowering spring, summer, and autumn bulb for your yard is now even easier: The Better Homes and Gardens Plant Encyclopedia allows you to search bulbs by size or season, as well as problem-solving uses. Information for each bulb will help you learn about hardiness zone, sun or shade requirements, other special features, and planting suggestions. View a list of bulbs by common name or scientific name below.
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African iris is a great all-purpose plant for home landscapes in Zones 8 and above. Its sturdy, reed-like foliage is evergreen and a wonderful accent plant in the landscape. Count on bright white flowers to decorate the clumps of 2- to 4-foot-tall plants from spring to fall. Call on African iris to add color and texture to tough landscaping areas, such as parking strips, flanking driveways, and dry patches near a home's foundation. It stands up to heat, drought, and neglect.
The cut flower of all cut flowers, alstroemeria is a staple flower in almost all bouquets. With blooms that can last up to two weeks and a color palette almost as wide as the spectrum itself, it is easy to see why. This South American native has made itself into a commodity for the flower markets—and has even worked its way into home gardens.
Amaryllis is an easy bulb to grow. Its enormous cluster of trumpet-shape blooms may require staking to keep them upright, but blooms may last for up to 6 weeks. Keep the plant cool (60-65 degrees F) while in bloom but slightly warmer at other times when it is actively growing. It needs bright light and evenly moist soil, except when it is dormant. Force the bulb to go dormant in late summer or early fall by withholding water and placing it in a cool, dry location for a couple of months. Resume watering and move it to a warm spot to force new growth.
Anemones naturalize easily in good garden soil, spreading their early-spring cheer in the ephemeral garden under bare trees and shrubs that later leaf out. These daisylike blooms feature thin, silky petals that quickly disperse in the breeze after flowering. A color range of white, sky blue, pink to the velvety reds and purples of poppy anemones provide jewellike tones for early in the season before the tulips open.
Soak anemone corms in warm water overnight before planting to speed sprouting. These hardy Mediterranean natives flourish in a well-drained, lighter soil in full sun to partial shade.
Providing color pizzazz in dim places where flowers can't, caladiums have come into their own recently with the craze for tropical plants. The clumping, heart-shape leaves are available in a variety of veined patterns in colors from cream to neon pinks, reds, silvers, and greens. Newer introductions bring caladiums out of the shade. The more substantial leaves of the Florida series, with greater heat tolerance, give the splashy caladiums their place in the sun. Plant caladium tubers shallowly in pots, and water sparingly until sprouts appear. They begin to grow vigorously once the weather warms in late spring to early summer.
Funnel-shaped white callas represent a simple cool elegance in the garden, but the colored callas add a new dimension to the plant. Now available in a rainbow of hues including lavender, purple, orange, yellow, and peach, these South African natives perk up container gardens and borders. The plants go dormant in colder winter areas of their hardiness range and do not emerge until temperatures warm up in late spring. Outside of their hardiness range, store the rhizomes in a frost-free place for winter.
Camassia is an often overlooked but spectacular spring bulb that takes over the show after tulips drop their petals and daffodil foliage begins to yellow. It produces spires of beautiful purple or blue flowers in late spring and early summer alongside favorites like allium, peony, and iris. Add this cool beauty to an entryway planting for a burst of late-spring color. Plant large drifts of camassia in perennial or shrub borders; its striking blue-purple flowers are visible from long distances.
Cannas (also called canna lilies) are large plants that add coarse, tropical texture to a garden, whether used in containers or planted directly in the ground. In cool climates, cannas are fast-growing plants that can be treated as annuals to fill a space with color quickly. In warmer climates, they can be left alone to create dense stands of bold colors thanks to flowers that bloom throughout the summer.
Chinese ground orchid is the perfect name for this little beauty, which actually is a true orchid. Its lavender-pink flowers resemble that of its larger, showier cousin, the Cattleya.
It grows best in partial shade with moderately moist soil. Where summers are cool, it can take full sun. In ideal conditions, it spreads gradually, forming a large clump over time.
Just when the summer garden begins to take on a bedraggled appearance, colchicum’s nearly perfect cup-shape flowers unfurl. They draw instant interest, making the rest of the lackluster summer garden fade into the landscape. Plant colchicum for the joy of seeing fresh flowers at the end of a long, hot summer. Or, plant it to remind yourself where the spring-blooming bulbs are planted; they’ll have died back before colchicum’s flowers appear in the fall. Its foliage, on the other hand, emerges in early spring, yellows, and fades back by July.
Clusters of showy tubular blossoms and soft fernlike foliage make corydalis a standout plant for shade gardens. Its flowers appear in spring, then the plant virtually disappears (leaving room for summer bloomers) until the following spring. This plant adds a colorful, cascading component to containers and hanging baskets.
Spidery, sweet scented crinum flowers dangle from a central stem, brightening late-summer gardens. The huge leafy plants spring from giant bulbs. The native Southern swamp lily depends on summer rain to set its perfumed flowers in motion. In colder climates, crinums are a botanical curiosity to show off on a summer patio, and then bring indoors to overwinter.
No late summer flower garden is complete without crocosmia's vibrant wands of scarlet, red, orange, and yellow. They offer a late pop of color when many gardens are languishing in the dog days. Their narrow, bladed foliage provides vertical accents much like gladiola leaves. The tubular blossoms beckon hummingbirds, and the seedpods that persist into fall also attract feathered visitors. Plant crocosmia bulbs in well-drained soil in fall or spring.
Often poking up through the last drifts of snow, crocuses are one of the opening acts of the spring-bulb show. Their large cup-shape blooms suddenly appearing in tufts of grasslike foliage seem magical. Plant crocuses in masses under trees and shrubs or in lawns for a dramatic early spring start in your garden. They thrive in any well-drained soil in full to partial sun.
Narcissus bulbocodium is also called hoop-petticoat daffodil because the cup, or corona, is much larger than the petals, so each flower appears to be mostly a cup with a fringe of petals surrounding it. The plant usually bears a single flower per stem. Native to western France, Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, it grows best in areas that have warm, dry summers. It is a bit less cold-hardy than many of the larger hybrid daffodils. However, like its larger cousins, it is deer- and rabbit-resistant.
Cyclamineus daffodils received their name from their short-necked flowers, which are sharply angled toward the stem, resembling cyclamen blooms. Many of these daffodil varieties feature petals that flare back away from the cup, creating even greater similarity to cyclamen. Their flowers are usually borne singly on each stem and may be yellow or white with a cup of the same or a contrasting color.
These easy-care spring flowers are resistant to deer and rabbits, and grow best in dry summer conditions.
Double daffodils are the show-offs of the daffodil world. Not content with a single row of petals, they have multiple rings of petals or tufted cups full of frills. Flower colors may be yellow, white, peach, pink, bicolor, or mixed. Many are so packed with petals that they almost look like miniature peonies.
As with single daffodils, the plants are deer and rabbit resistant and easy to grow. Double varieties do have a drawback, however: The flowers are sometimes so heavy that the stems have difficulty holding the blooms upright. You may need to stake individual stems or harvest fallen flowers for bouquets.
Although the terms jonquil and daffodil are often used interchangeably, jonquils are technically only one type of daffodil. Jonquils have one to five flowers per stem and are usually quite fragrant. The petals may be spreading or reflexed. As with other types of daffodils, jonquils are reliable spring bloomers, resisting damage from rabbits and deer. Bulbs increase by natural division, making them great for naturalizing.
Large-cup and trumpet daffodils are nearly no-fail spring bulbs. Deer and rabbits avoid them, and they bloom reliably each spring, often increasing in spread and amount of bloom from year to year. The varieties classified as large-cup or trumpet daffodils usually have one flower per stem, and the cup (or corona) is about one-third the length of the petals. In trumpet types, the cup is longer than the petals.
While this group has some of the largest daffodil varieties available, it also includes miniatures with large cups relative to petal length.
Poet's daffodils are also sometimes called poeticus or pheasant-eye daffodils. The latter designation derives from their red-rimmed yellow or green cups that resemble a pheasant's eye against the backdrop of the bulb's white petals. The flowers are borne one to a stem and are fragrant.
This division of daffodils, like all others, is resistant to deer and rabbit damage. The plants are drought-tolerant and naturalize readily.