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Planting Bulbs That Bloom in Early Spring

Autumn is the time for planting bulbs that bloom in early in spring — it’s like a gift your autumn self gives your winter-weary spring self. If you want to be especially thoughtful to you, plant bulbs that bloom in very early spring — in some cases, even before the snow melts. They aren’t as showy and big as the more well-known daffodils and tulips, but their small size still packs a lot of relief from the late-winter blues.

The Early Bloomers

The earliest flowering bulbs are white snowdrops (Galanthus). Then come the little butter-yellow stars of winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis), followed by the tiny lilac or mauve flowers of glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa). Next are crocus and squills (Scilla) and then grape hyacinths (Muscari).

Planting Bulbs That Bloom in Early Spring

All these smaller bulbs naturalize well — that is, within a few years they spread of their own accord. In addition to being decorative, early spring bulbs bring color to shady areas of the garden. Most bloom so early that the trees and shrubs have not yet produced leaves, leaving more than enough spring sunshine to encourage lots of colored little blossoms.


You can plant bulbs any time in autumn before the ground freezes. Sooner is better than later, because it gives roots time to develop. If you live in an area where the winter’s don’t get cold, chill the bulbs in the refrigerator over the winter and plant them outside in the late winter.

Plant spring bulbs about twice as deep as the bulb’s height. For small bulbs, the planting depth is about 2 inches. You can either dig or poke a hole in the ground with a garden hand trowel or other garden hand tool for each one, or dig a larger flat-bottomed hole and space the bulbs evenly on the excavated surface. In either case, cover the bulbs and pat the soil to firm it.

Because the flowers are small, plant them in large groups so they have an impact. You can plant dozens — even hundreds — near each other.


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