Best bulbs for Christmas flowering – 6 blooms to spread joy

These are the best bulbs for Christmas flowering and are sure to spread joy this festive season

Best bulbs for Christmas flowering
(Image credit: Future/Getty Images)

These are the best bulbs for Christmas flowering and they are guaranteed to bring color and character into your house and garden this festive season. 

Whether you want to bring life back into your backyard or you are hoping to bring some blooms into your decor, we've rounded up the very best Christmas plants and flowers to ensure your home feels fabulously festive.

Best bulbs for Christmas flowering

Whether you're looking to add color to your winter garden ideas or want to force bulbs indoors for Christmas, these Christmas flowering bulbs are sure to bring life back into your space. 

In some parts of the country, forcing bulbs may be the only way you can have flowers at this time of year. However, in warmer parts of the country – zones 5 to 8 –lots of these bulbs can be grown in the garden for some late December cheer. Try planting bulbs at the end of summer for the greatest chance of flowers at the end of the year. 

1. Amaryllis

Colourful Amaryllis in glass vases on windowsill

(Image credit: Future)

Amaryllis is one of the easiest bulbs to plant for Christmas flowering and, like many tropical plants, are best grown indoors. 'It is likely that bulbs bought as a boxed set (i.e. with bulb(s), pot and fiber included) will come with instructions. Most Hippeastums (commonly called Amaryllis) come like this. If you want to grow ‘outdoor’ bulbs for Christmas flowering though, you must buy prepared bulbs. Check that they are clearly labeled as such before buying them,' says gardening expert Mick Lavelle.

2. Hyacinth

Flowering hyacinths in pots

(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the best spring bulbs, hyacinths can also be grown for Christmas blooming. 'Hyacinths are a deliciously scented flower to have in the house in late winter,' says florist Jess Lister of Aesme Studio. 'Use them either as cut flowers tucked into the center of bowl arrangements, or leave them growing as bulbs in pots or vases. If you’re growing your own you can often find some really special, nuanced colors from bulb suppliers, from pale creamy yellow to apricot and salmon,' says Jess. 

Hyacinths can be grown both inside and out – learn how to plant hyacinth bulbs and ensure you know when to plant hyacinth bulbs to help you increase your chances of late December flowering.

3. Narcissi Paperwhite

Pair of urns filled with paperwhites

(Image credit: Alamy)

One of the easiest bulbs for Christmas flowering, Paperwhite Narcissus differ from other bulbs in that they have minimal preparation requirements. 'Paperwhite Narcissus do not need chilling and can simply be grown on a warm sunny windowsill,' explains Mick Lavelle.

'By the middle of November, plant ‘Paperwhite’ narcissi ready to flower in time for Christmas. Forced bulbs should be brought to a cool windowsill when they have approximately 1 inch of growth,' explains plantswoman Sarah Raven

4. Snowdrops

snowdrops planted among terracotta pots

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

One of the best bulbs for Christmas flowering, snowdrops can be grown both indoors and outdoors. In milder climates, snowdrops can bloom in December. Opt for Very Early or Early varieties which will bloom earlier than traditional varieties. Snow varieties including 'Earliest', 'Earliest of All', and 'November Merlin' are all good choices. 

'Hardy snowdrops are lovely mixed with hellebores and aconites, planted in naturalized drifts on lawns, against contrasting colored winter stems or in troughs,' says Homes & Gardens' garden expert Leigh Clapp.

Of course, it is impossible to guarantee December blooming when growing outside, though knowing how to plant snowdrops can help – uncontrollable factors such as temperature, frost, and snow will all play their part.

If you are desperate for December snowdrops, try forcing the bulbs inside. This will require some forward planning as they need a prior of cold before they start to grow. However, if done successfully, pots of snowdrops are sure to brighten your home.

5. Crocus

Gorgeous species of Crocus flowering in late February

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Available in an array of colors from bright whites to vibrant purples and pinks, crocuses are some of our favorite bulbs for Christmas flowering. As with any bulbs for Christmas flowering, it is important to note the flowering times of individual varieties: species crocuses bloom before the larger Dutch types. Crocus sublimis 'Tricolor' is one of the earlier varieties. If you are hoping to plant crocus, then it's important to know when to plant crocus – especially if you're hoping for late December blooms.

6. Winter acconite

Winter aconites in pot

(Image credit: Natalia Greeske/Alamy Stock Photo)

With their cheery yellow faces, Winter Acconites are one of the best winter flowers. Best grown outdoors, they can tolerate zones 4-9.

'Winter aconite bulbs produce golden, cup-shaped flowers surrounded by a green collar of leaves. In fact, they look just like buttercups, except they flower in the depths of winter. They love moist soil and a shady position, so they're perfect for planting among trees,' says experts at Gardening Express.

Where to buy bulbs for Christmas flowering

What bulbs bloom for Christmas?

Amaryllis, snowdrops, crocus, hyacinth and Narcissi Paperwhite are all bulbs that bloom for Christmas. All of these bulbs can be forced inside for Christmas flowering, and in some parts of the country, these bulbs can also be grown outside for December blooming. 

Is it too late to plant bulbs for Christmas?

No, it is not too late to plant bulbs for Christmas. Three weeks before Christmas is your last opportunity to plant bulbs in time for Christmas. Paperwhite narcissus will take between three and four weeks to bloom when planted indoors. 

Holly Reaney
Content Editor and Sub-editor

Having graduated with a first class degree in English Literature, Holly started her career as a features writer and sub-editor at Period Living magazine, Homes & Gardens' sister title. Working on Period Living brought with it insight into the complexities of owning and caring for period homes, from interior decorating through to choosing the right windows and the challenges of extending. This has led to a passion for traditional interiors, particularly the country-look. Writing for the Homes & Gardens website as a content editor, alongside regular features for Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors magazines, has enabled her to broaden her writing to incorporate her interests in gardening, wildlife and nature.