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, which are a close relative of buttercup, share that plant’s natural charm. Bulb-type anemones naturalize easily in good garden soil, spreading their early spring cheer beneath still-bare trees and shrubs. These daisylike flowers feature thin, silky petals that quickly disperse in a breeze after flowering. A color range of crisp white, sky blue, and pinkish purple complements crocus and snowdrop early in the season before tulips grab the spotlight. Anemones are also a good choice for cutting and using in springtime bouquets. Plant extras so you can enjoy them indoors and out!
Worth noting: Fall-blooming anemone—also called Japanese anemone or windflower—brightens the late-season garden. This larger plant comes in many shades of whites and pinks with petals arranged in either single or double rows.
Caladiums combine colorful arrowhead-shape leaves with easy growth requirements to star in containers and shade gardens from June through fall. Plant them in part shade or where they will receive filtered sun; bright sun can scorch their leaves. Those large leaves can also be damaged by strong winds, so site accordingly. Pair caladiums with ferns, hostas, and other shade perennials in the landscape. They thrive in containers and are especially striking when planted alongside begonia, fuchsia, and impatiens.
Neither a calla nor a lily, the calla lily—which grows 24 to 36 inches tall—is part of the Jack-in-the-pulpit family. Its trumpet-shape flowers and arrowhead-shape leaves rise directly from rhizomes—no stems needed. This plant helps stretch out the color show in your backyard. When early summer perennials begin to fade, these plants stand ready to unfurl their blossoms in hues that include white, yellow, pink, red, orange, and purple. Worth noting: In the language of flowers, white calla lilies stand for marital bliss and true devotion—which may be why brides use them for everything from their wedding bouquet to table arrangements. Also an expression of sympathy, calla lilies often make appearances at funerals.
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.
A deer-resistant, woodland beauty, Chinese ground orchid has small pinkish-purple flowers for weeks in spring. The petite blossoms reflect the plant name and look like orchids growing along thin stems that stand 18 inches tall. A great plant for rock gardens or the front of part-shade borders, Chinese ground orchids spread slowly to form a carpet of foliage.
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.
Crinum lilies have graced Southern homesteads with its bold presence for centuries. In cold climates, crinum lilies shine in pots on a patio during summer but need to be overwintered inside. Whether grown in-ground or in a pot, the plants send out fragrant spidery flowers in shades of white, pink, and red in early summer. Flower stalks emerge above 2- to 3-foot-tall arching straplike green leaves. Sometimes plants grow a second flower stalk in late summer.
Calling all hummingbirds! Crocosmias’ graceful arching stems of petite red, orange and yellow flowers are beacons to hummingbirds in search of a nectar rich meal. These easy-to-grow corms (a bulb-like structure) unfurl their fiery flowers in midsummer and fall when the rest of the garden is often languishing in the heat. Count on crocosmia, also called montbretia, to add a burst of color and whimsical interest year-after-year.
Crocus brings early spring color to the landscape by popping out of the ground (sometimes through snow!) with petite, ground-hugging flowers. Large sections of crocus planted beneath deciduous trees create a spectacular sight. This plant also possesses the power to jazz up rock gardens, brighten the ground in front of shrubs, and line sidewalks with splashes of color.
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.
The cyclamineus types of miniature daffodils are both delicately beautiful and tough enough to bloom with gusto through a variety of conditions. Because they’re more moisture- and shade-tolerant than other daffodils, cyclamineus types make an excellent choice for planting under deciduous trees or around shrubs.
Double daffodils are the show-offs of the daffodil world. Not content with a single row of plain petals, they display either multiple rings of petals or tufted cups full of frills. In addition to the yellow daffodils we know and love, doubles come in white, peach, pink, and bicolor. Just as reliable and easy to grow as other daffodils, double-flowering hybrids are particularly well-suited for cutting. A group of 10 stems makes a substantial bouquet with a week-long vase life.
Although the terms jonquil and daffodil are often used interchangeably, jonquils represent only a single species of daffodil. (Daffodil is the common name for the genus Narcissus—which includes dozens of species. Jonquils bear one to five golden-yellow flowers per stem and are usually quite fragrant. These prolific bloomers share many traits with other members of the Narcissus family, which all thrive in well-drained soil and full sun. Deer and rodents seldom bother them. Plus, they come back year after year and multiply rapidly with little care. What’s not to love?
Large-cup daffodils greet spring with big flowers—one per stem—in different arrangements of white, bright yellow, orange, and even salmon-pink. The cups can be shaped like trumpets or bowls, and they display smooth or ruffled edges. With some varieties the cups are a different color than the petals. Color choices aside, this daffodil is great for naturalizing and mass plantings. Plant 25 to 50 of these robust bloomers and enjoy a spring color show that lasts for two weeks or more. Large-cup daffodils spread slowly over time but will bloom for decades—so choose a planting spot where you can enjoy them for years to come.
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.