10 of the best spring bulbs to plant in fall for a glorious display all season long

By planting a mixture of spring bulbs in the fall you can create a stunning show of blooms that will last for months, whether it is in beds, borders, or containers

Spring bulbs planted together in a container
(Image credit: Getty Images/Pauline Lewis)

The emergence of bulbs in spring heralds the annual start of the garden springing back into life from its winter slumber. The sight of the early bloomers, such as snowdrops and winter aconites, can be a welcome relief from the cold and a sign of better weather to come.

If you want a spectacular showing from spring bulbs next year, then fall is the time to get out into the garden and plant these bulbs in the ground. There is a good range of spring bulbs to plant that can bring color and enjoyment to a garden of any size come spring.

All of the best spring bulbs to plant in fall can either be planted in the ground, often looking stunning planted in groups or drifts, or are capable of thriving in pots if you are short of outdoor space and want to bring spring color to a patio, deck, or balcony.

Planting spring bulbs in the garden

Bulbs should be planted at three times their depth

(Image credit: Getty Images/AlexRaths)


Close up of the double clowers of snowdrop Galanthus nivalis Flore Pleno

Snowdrops like a spot in dappled shade

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photo / Matthew Taylor)
  • Planting time: October to November
  • Flowering time: Early spring 

Usually hailed as the first sign of a new spring, snowdrops are famed for their small white bell-shaped flowers. There is a large amount of different snowdrops to choose from, with these perennial bulbs becoming increasingly popular and rare varieties fetching large sums of money from galanthophiles. 

Snowdrop bulbs are planted in the fall around October and November, while plants can be bought ‘in the green’ to be planted in the spring. If you do buy bulbs they want to be planted quickly as they have a tendency to dry out fast. 

These spring bulbs want to grow in moist but well-drained soil and, as a woodland plant, they like a partial-shade spot. You can grow any of the best snowdrops in pots, however you do need to take care the bulbs do not dry out in summer and bulbs should be transplanted into the garden after two years in a container. 

See the range of snowdrop bulbs at Dutch Grown


Vivid blue flowers of Scilla, or squill

Scilla look fantastic when planted en-masse

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photo / Ernie Janes)
  • Planting time: September to November
  • Flowering time: Early spring

Scilla appear in early spring with their dark blue star-shaped flowers twinkling above the foliage. These miniature bulbs are often planted densely, allowed to naturalize areas or used to poke through short grass. 

Scilla should be grown in full sun or partial shade, with bulbs planted in mid-to-late fall. The bulbs should be put in around 3-4 inches deep, which is shallow compared to many other spring bulbs. This makes it easy to be generous and plant large numbers of scilla in an area.

Scilla are also one of the best bulbs for pots as they can be packed into a container, or used as the top layer of a lasagna planting scheme of bulbs.

See the range of scilla bulbs at Dutch Grown


Iris reticulata 'Harmony'

Iris reticulata is a hugely popular early flowering iris

(Image credit: Botany vision / Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Planting time: September or October
  • Flowering time: Early spring

Irises can be used in succession to provide a long season of blooms and are great for spring garden ideas. The winter-flowering irises, such as the dwarf Iris reticulata, can come to the fore in February or March and then be followed by the spring flowering types, such as the Dutch or Siberian irises that are prevalent in mid-spring. 

The time to plant iris bulbs is in September or October. Bulbs want to be planted around six inches deep in flower beds or borders, while the dwarf types of iris are most suited to container gardening ideas as their small bulbs can be layered with other spring bulbs.

See the range of iris bulbs at Dutch Grown


plants for wet soil Narcissus pseudonarcissus daffodils in bloom

All daffodils have a trumpet backed by six petals

(Image credit: PJ Photography / Shutterstock)
  • Planting time: September or October
  • Flowering time: Early-to-late spring

Daffodils are hugely-popular spring-flowering bulbs that are simple to grow and their distinctive yellow or white blooms come to the fore starting in February and flowering all the way through to May. 

Daffodils do come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, meaning there is a type of daffodil perfect for any backyard ideas. There are also single and double-stemmed varieties to choose from and varieties that bloom early spring or mid-spring, so you can get an extended display by mixing types.

The time to plant daffodil bulbs is in early fall and the bulbs do need to be planted at a depth of three times the height of the bulb in a sunny spot. Daffodils are reliable bloomers that work great when planted in groups or swathes, while they can also be happily grown in pots and containers.

See the range of daffodil bulbs at Dutch Grown


Hyacinths smell wonderful and can be grown inside and out, in pots and the soil

Hyacinths can be forced in pots for earlier displays

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photo / Botany Vision)
  • Planting time: September to November
  • Flowering time: Mid-spring

The fragrant blooms of hyacinths come out in early-to-mid-spring, often appearing around the same time as the daffodils. Coming in a range of colors, they are compact plants and the bulbs each put out a flowering stalk that stands up to 10 inches tall. They can often be accompanied by a second stalk with slightly smaller bloom. 

Hyacinth bulbs are best planted in groups during the fall, from September through to November, and put into the ground with the flat root end down and about six inches deep in the soil. Each bulb wants around four inches of space. Take care when handling hyacinth bulbs as they can irritate the skin. 

Hyacinths packed tightly into a spring planter can make a fantastic display, where the bulbs can be planted much closer together in pots than in the ground.

See the range of hyacinth bulbs at Dutch Grown


Dark pink purple tulips with green stems

There are thought to be thousands of tulip varieties 

(Image credit: Alamy)
  • Planting time: October to November
  • Flowering time: Early-to-late spring

Tulips are arguably the most famous spring bulb and they are hugely popular to add color to borders during the season. The blooms can come in a wide range of colors and there are early, mid, and late-flowering varieties to choose from. 

No matter what type of tulip you choose, and there is something to be said for mixing different types for a dramatic display, all tulip bulbs are planted in mid-to-late fall at a depth of three times the height of the bulb and at least four inches from each other. 

Tulips can be perennial but nowadays they are treated more as annuals, as there is a lack of certainty that bulbs will rebloom the following year. So most gardeners now plant new bulbs every fall. 

See the range of tulip bulbs at Dutch Grown


Grape hyacinth 'Blue Ocean' is a pretty two-tone variety

Muscari can be mixed with other bulbs in spring planters

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photo / Botany Vision)
  • Planting time: September to November 
  • Flowering time: Mid-spring

Muscari, also known as grape hyacinths, are small spring bulbs that put out bright blue flowers. The fragrant blooms are diminutive at just six inches tall, but they are very wildlife-friendly and their flowers attract bees in the spring. 

The bulbs are planted in the fall between September and November around four inches deep. Muscari are very versatile and can be put in the front of borders, in containers, used to brighten shady spots, or put in to pop up through a lawn. The blooms will appear year-after-year without fuss, but they do spread so may need lifting or dividing every few years. 

See the range of muscari bulbs at Dutch Grown


plants for wet soil fritillaria growing in spring display

Snakeshead fritillary like growing in moist soil

(Image credit: Yuliya Evstratenko / Shutterstock)
  • Planting time: September to October
  • Flowering time: Mid-spring

Snakeshead fritillary have a distinctive bell-shaped flower head that hangs delicately from a straight and slender stem. The blooms tend to have a chequered pattern in shades of pinks or purples. 

There are many different types of fritillaria available and the bulbs are planted in early fall to bloom in mid-spring. The plants want to be in a sunny or part-shade spot but prefer a moist area in which to grow.

Fritillaria are often seen naturalized in grassy spots or meadows and will multiply year-on-year when left to grow. Otherwise, snakeshead fritillary can also work perfectly in borders or in containers, either on their own or with other spring bulbs.

See the range of fritillaria bulbs at Dutch Grown


Leucojum spring bulb flowering

Leucojum work well planted in clumps

(Image credit: Getty Images/AL Hedderly)
  • Planting time: September to November
  • Flowering time: Late spring

Leucojum, also known as snowflakes, are closely related to snowdrops but not as well known. The main difference between the two is that leucojum flowers later in spring and also puts out taller bell-shaped white flowers. They are close to twice the height of snowdrops and suited to planting in woodland or grassy areas, in flower beds, or in containers. 

Leucojum bulbs are planted around six inches deep from September to November and the plants want fertile but well-draining soil. Clumps will increase year-on-year if they are left undisturbed.

See the range of leucojum bulbs at Dutch Grown


Allium 'Purple Sensation' in bloom

Allium 'Purple Sensation' is a hugely popular variety

(Image credit: Claire Gainey/Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Planting time: September to November
  • Flowering time: Late spring

Alliums are spectacular and architectural bulbs that put on a great display of pom pom heads in spring. With varieties ranging in height from a mere eight inches up to closer to 45 inches, there are alliums for any scenarios. While most people will think of alliums with purple blooms, they can actually come in shades of blue, pink, yellow, and white too. 

Plant allium bulbs between September and November before the ground freezes and get them in deep, up to six inches deep for the larger varieties. Alliums can be utilized for their height as points of interest in flower beds or borders, or they can be put in pots for dramatic displays. Make sure any container size reflects the size of the bulbs you want to place in there. 

See the range of allium bulbs at Dutch Grown

Whenever you are planting bulbs it is important to ensure that the soil is loose and well-draining, ideally with organic materials such as compost mixed in. Then use a trowel to make a deep hole, or you can get special bulb planting tools to make the job easier if you have lots of bulbs to plant – such as this bulb planter available at Amazon. Water after planting and, in the case of fall-planted bulbs, consider mulching them to keep the soil moist and protect the bulbs from the worst of the winter weather.

Drew Swainston
Content Editor

Drew’s passion for gardening started with growing vegetables and salad in raised beds in a small urban terrace garden. He has gone on to work as a professional gardener in historic gardens across the UK and also specialise as a kitchen gardener growing vegetables, fruit, herbs, and cut flowers. That passion for growing extends to being an allotmenteer, garden blogger, and producing how-to gardening guides for websites. Drew was shortlisted in the New Talent of the Year award at the 2023 Garden Media Guild Awards.