A Bulb Buying Guide for Spring

Photo credit: Holly Korus

There I was, two days before spring had officially arrived, tra-la-la’ing around my garden poking the earth with a stick saying, “Yes,  spring has arrived…..nothing can stop us now”

Then fade to white … literally. So it is my fault, the snow I mean. As anyone who has ever watched Scooby Doo will tell you never, ever say, “Nothing can stop us now.”

As the green things pop through the earth and my gardening catalogs pile up, people are asking me what kind of bulbs can they plant now. As far as spring bulbs that are coming up now, such as crocus, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and the like, I’m sorry to say those are bulbs that are planted in the fall. Some garden centers and home improvement stores do sell flats of forced bulbs that you can  buy for about four times the price of planting them in the fall. This is an option if you must have tulips and daffodils in your yard this spring. Even though the catalogs may sell spring blooming bulbs, if you read the fine print they will not be shipped to you until the fall.

BulbsSo what bulbs can you  buy now, plant now and that will bloom this summer? Here is a list of some of my favorites for full sun to partial shade (Code for care is at the bottom of the page):


  • Asiatic-C, N
  • Tiger and Turk’s Cap-N
  • Oriental-C, F
  • Trumpet- S
  • Lily ‘Trees’-S

GLADIOLUSD (most varieties)


Other fun things from tuber to bulb to buy and plant now.


For beginners try Cactus or Karma varieties.  Personally I can’t imagine my garden without dahlias. They are well worth the extra work.

Shade Lovers


Grown for their heart shaped pink and green or white and green foliage up to 6″-2′ long or so.


Grown for their massive 2′- 3′ long leaves. Elephant Ears come in green or purple varieties. They do well in shade but they are tropical so water them well.

To save shipping charges buy locally from Ploch’s or Cedar Grove Garden Center . You can also find more varieties  from a reputable garden catalog. I like van Bourgondien, Brecks, Michigan Bulb Co. and Dutch Gardens.

C-Good for cutting

D-Dig up in the fall and store in a cool dry place


N-Naturalizing (spreading)

S-Need staking

Have more bulb questions? Ask Holly in the comments.

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  1. Thanks for a great post Holly. And don’t forget, you can really stock up on beautiful healthy plants Mother’s Day weekend at all the Montclair plant sales. Presby Iris Gardens and the Garden Club of Montclair, Master Gardeners, Van Vleck, Crane House–start early and visit all of them to get a nice range of veggies, perennials, herbs, trees, shrubs, flowering vines, and more.

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