Best Spring Blooming Bulbs for Warm Climates
Spring Bulbs, Spring Flowers
Several of the fall-planted spring-flowering bulb varieties that mark the end of winter in colder climates can play a role in warm-weather spring gardens too. Most daffodils, some tulips and several other spring-blooming flower bulbs can be grown in areas as warm as Southern California and the Gulf Coast.
A warm climate has the following characteristics:
- Temperatures can drop to around -5ºC (23ºF) during the winter. (This is typical for climate zones 8-9)
- Summers are warm and dry.
- Daffodils (aka Narcissi) are the biggest surprise: most originate in warm Mediterranean regions and will grow readily in USDA zones 9 and 10, requiring no over-winter chilling at all.
- Other bulbs that take naturally to warmer areas include Alliums, Dutch Iris, German Iris, Summer Snowflakes and Spanish Bluebells.
- Classic spring bulbs such as Crocus, Hyacinths and most Tulips are less conducive to warm-climate growing conditions, but can be grown as annuals in warm zones if pre-chilled for 6 to 8 weeks prior to planting. This gives them the solid dose of winter temperatures they require to trigger their spring bloom cycle. Purchase bulbs in the fall for the best selection, and then chill them until planting at 35° F to 45° F (1.5° C to 7° C) in a paper bag kept in a refrigerator crisper drawer. Make sure to keep the bulbs away from any ripening fruits, which give off ethylene gas that can harm the embryonic flower in the bulb.
- Remove bulbs from chilling in late December to early January and plant immediately. Best performing tulips for warm zones include the Darwin hybrids and many of the long-stemmed Single Late varieties.
These tulips are good choices for multiple-year flowering when combining with perennials
Tulipa 'Ad Rem' (Darwin Hybrid Tulip)
Fragrant and stately, Tulip 'Ad Rem' is a spectacular tulip with large, richly colored blossoms. Wonderfully fragrant, it features glowing scarlet petals adorned with a golden band around the edges. Perfect for lighting up the garden! Blooming in mid-late spring, this Darwin Hybrid enjoys a sturdy, long stem that will withstand wind and rain. Grows up to 20-24 inches tall (50-60 cm)
Tulipa 'Ballade' (Lily-Flowered Tulip)
Incredibly beautiful, award-winner Tulip 'Ballade' is a spectacular tulip with fabulous royal purple goblet-shaped flowers with pointed, reflexed petals and fine ivory edges. Blooming in the late spring garden, this Lily-Flowered Tulip provides an elegant and graceful display when swaying in the spring breeze. It naturalizes easily and will come back year after year to create dazzling harmonies. Grows up to 20 inches tall (50 cm)
Tulipa 'Cape Cod' (Greigii Tulip)
Tulip 'Cape Cod' provides a mesmerizing sight with its glowing apricot petals edged yellow and combined with its purple mottled leaves. The flowers, are large in proportion to the plant's total height, up to 4 in. wide (10 cm), and open wide in the full sun. Belonging to the Greigii Tulip Group, 'Cape Cod' will reliably bring sparkles to the garden in early - mid-spring. Growing only 8 inches tall (20 cm), this tulip naturalizes easily and will come back year after year
Tulipa 'Couleur Cardinal' (Single Early Tulip)
Quite short, Tulip 'Couleur Cardinal' nevertheless has a commanding presence in the early-mid spring garden with its rich, deep-red flowers with a plum blush, all set on dark sturdy stems that withstand wind and rain. 'Couleur Cardinal' is one of the oldest tulips as it was introduced in 1845 (!!!) and has been quite popular since then. Grows up to 14 inches tall (35 cm)
Tulipa 'Menton' (Single Late Tulip)
Award-winning Tulip 'Menton' is amazingly beautiful with its elegant, egg-shaped blossoms looking rose pink in part shade and turning soft apricot in full sun. Blooming in late spring, this graceful Single Late Tulip enjoys a tall, stiff stem that will withstand wind and rain. Grows up to 24-26 inches tall (60-65 cm)
Tulipa 'Purissima' (Fosteriana Tulip)
Adored by gardeners and considered one of the prettiest white tulip cultivars, award-winning Tulip 'Purissima' is a classy and elegant tulip with broad pure white elongated petals and a creamy base. Withstanding wind and rain thanks to its strong stem, it is a popular member of the Fosteriana Group. Blooming in early to mid-spring, it can be found on full display for up to 3 weeks! Growing up to 14-16 inches tall (35-40 cm), this tulip naturalizes easily and will come back year after year
Tulipa 'Shirley' (Triumph Tulip)
Tulip 'Shirley' is a beautiful color-changing tulip featuring ivory white petals, tenderly edged in purple as it opens, slowly turning almost entirely into light lilac lace. A fascinating tulip to observe. Easy to pair with other tulips and perennials, this mid-late spring bloomer makes perfect, long-lasting cut flowers. May live a few years in the garden, but the best effect will be obtained from new bulbs. Grows up to 18-20 inches tall (45-50 cm)
Tulipa 'Showwinner' (Kaufmanniana Tulip)
Award-winning Tulip 'Showwinner' is a striking cultivar of the waterlily tulips, with its bright scarlet flowers which open wide to reveal a golden heart and are held on short stems above handsomely mottled leaves. A beautiful sight on display in the early spring garden! Naturalizes easily and will come back year after year. Grows only 8-10 inches tall (20-25 cm)
Tulipa 'Spring Green' (Viridiflora Tulip)
Standing out, award-winning Tulip 'Spring Green' is truly an unusual tulip with its amazing ivory-white flowers and soft green feathering. Fresh-looking, sturdy and reliable, it blooms in late spring and enjoys long-lasting blossoms (3 weeks!). It looks ravishing in a vase too.
Tulipa 'Toronto' (Greigii Tulip)
Award-winning Tulip 'Toronto' is a multi-flowering tulip with 3-5 flowers per bulb. A bouquet per stem! Short but highly visible with its jasper red tinged on vermilion petals and bronze base atop handsomely mottled leaves! The cup-shaped flowers open broadly in the full sun. Belonging to the Greigii Tulips, 'Toronto' will reliably bring a joyful color to the garden in mid-spring. Growing only 12 inches tall (30 cm), this tulip naturalizes easily and will come back year after year to your delight!
Tulipa turkestanica (Botanical Tulip)
Named for its place of origin, Turkey, award-winning Tulip turkestanica is a wild-looking species with gray-green leaves and up to 12 star-shaped, white flowers borne on 10-inch stems (25 cm). While appearing white at first glance, the flowers are actually flushed greenish-gray or greenish-pink on the outside, with centers shaded yellow or orange around brown or purple stamens and purple-tipped yellow anthers. These are quite attractive little fragrant flowers indeed! Flowering in early spring, this tulip naturalizes easily.
These daffodils are good choices for multiple-year flowering when combining with perennials
Narcissus 'Accent' (Large-Cupped Daffodil)
Sun-proof, award-winner Narcissus 'Accent' is an elegant and prolific daffodil boasting star-shaped flowers, 4 in. across (10 cm), adorned with slightly reflexed, ivory-white petals and a contrasting, frilled funnel-shaped cup of deep salmon pink. Blooming in mid to late spring, this Large-Cupped Daffodil is a vigorous grower that is regarded as one of the best landscape pink daffodils. Excellent as cut flowers!
Narcissus 'Actaea' (Poeticus Daffodil)
Fragrant, multiple award-winner Narcissus 'Actaea' (Poet's Daffodil) displays elegant, pure white flowers, up to 3 in. wide (8 cm), adorned with six wide petals and tiny, red-rimmed, golden-yellow cups. Blooming in mid to late spring, one flower per stem, the blossoms rise atop a clump of narrow, strap-shaped leaves. Great in the sunny border, this daffodil performs better in wet, poorly drained areas than most daffodils. Because of its sweet scent, it makes excellent cut flowers.
Narcissus 'Bridal Crown' (Double Daffodil)
Multiple award-winning 'Bridal Crown' is sweetly scented and incredibly good-looking. It features long-lasting double flowers with multiple creamy-white petals interspersed with saffron-yellow cup segments. The flowers cluster together at the top of the stems and appear in mid-late spring. Such a beautiful sight! This Daffodil makes a beautiful cut flower and can be forced indoors for winter bloom.
Narcissus 'Carlton' (Large-Cupped Daffodil)
Rich with a strong vanilla scent, multiple award-winning Narcissus 'Carlton' is an exquisite, solid golden-yellow daffodil featuring very large flowers, 5 in. across (12 cm), adorned with wide, gracefully frilled cups and broad, overlapping petals. Blooming in mid-spring, this highly popular Large-Cupped Daffodil is a strong performer of immense vigor, and one of the best perennializers. It is famously reliable for large-scale plantings.
Narcissus 'Cheerfulness' (Double Daffodil)
Very fragrant, multiple award-winner Narcissus 'Cheerfulness' boasts long-lasting, double flowers, 2.5 in. across (6 cm), with multiple creamy-white petals interspersed with yellow flecks at the center. The flowers, 3-6 per stem, cluster together at the top of the stems and appear in mid or late spring. Reliably perennial, you can't help but smile when looking at this daffodil!
Narcissus 'Dutch Master' (Trumpet Daffodil)
Introduced in 1938, multiple award-winning Narcissus 'Dutch Master' has become the standard for large yellow daffodils. Lightly fragrant, it boasts very large, showy golden-yellow flowers, 4 in. across (11 cm), in mid-spring. Noted for its great vigor and superior performance, it has become a strong substitute for the most recognized, heirloom daffodil, King Alfred. Great for naturalizing. Comes back year after year to bring its cheerful color and put a smile on your face!
Narcissus 'February Gold' (Cyclamineus Daffodil)
Always the first to bloom, multiple award-winner Narcissus 'February Gold' is a small but sturdy daffodil with gently nodding flowers, up to 3 in. across (7.5 cm), adorned with vivid yellow trumpets and reflexed petals. Blooming in early spring, this Miniature Daffodil is one of the most reliable, reblooming perennial bulbs. It multiplies easily to create pretty swathes of yellow blooms resembling shooting stars with their back-swept petals. Perfect for borders or naturalizing.
Narcissus 'Flower Drift' (Double Daffodil)
Rich with a spicy fragrance, Narcissus 'Flower Drift' features large, fully double flowers, 4 in. across (10 cm), adorned with multiple creamy-white petals surrounding a warm orange-yellow center. Blooming in early-mid spring, with one flower per stem, this Double Daffodil is a good naturalizer.
Narcissus 'Fortissimo' (Large-Cupped Daffodil)
A real show-stopper, Narcissus 'Fortissimo' produces very large blossoms, up to 5 inches across (12 cm), combining brilliant yellow petals with a slightly frilled, reddish-orange cup. Blooming in mid-spring, this very eye-catching Large-Cupped Daffodil is a wonderful naturalizer and makes ravishing cut flowers. Each spring will bring you more of the largest, brightest daffodils!
Narcissus 'Geranium' (Tazetta Daffodil)
Delightfully fragrant, multiple award-winner Narcissus 'Geranium' bears clusters of 3-6 flowers per stem, adorned with creamy-white petals and deep orange-red cups in mid to late spring. Many bulbs will produce multiple stems, forming lovely bouquets. Because of its strong stem and sweet scent, this heirloom Tazetta Daffodil makes excellent cut flowers. Ideal for warmer climates.
Narcissus 'Ice Follies' (Large-Cupped Daffodil)
Sweetly fragrant, multiple award-winner Narcissus 'Ice Follies' produces large flowers, 4 in. across (9.5 cm), adorned with creamy-white petals and a flared, frilled, lemon-yellow cup that fades to pale cream over time. Blooming in early to mid-spring, this fast-growing and popular Large-Cupped Daffodil is a wonderful naturalizer as well as a good forcer. A heavy bloomer and vigorous grower, it makes excellent cut flowers too!
Narcissus 'Ice King' (Double Daffodil)
Resembling carnations with its fully double lemon-yellow petals turning creamy-white, Narcissus 'Ice King' is a marvelous addition to any mid-spring borders. And it is so conspicuous with its impressive 4 in. (10 cm) blossoms! A sport of world acclaimed Narcissus 'Ice follies', this Double Daffodil has been extremely popular since its introduction in 1984. Makes a beautiful cut flower and creates extremely long-lasting bouquets.
Narcissus 'Peeping Tom' (Cyclamineus Daffodil)
Vigorous and long-lived, multiple award-winner Narcissus 'Peeping Tom' boasts large flowers, 4 in. across (9.5 cm), adorned with brilliant yellow, reflexed petals surrounding long, bright golden-yellow ruffled trumpets. Blooming in early to mid-spring, this Miniature Daffodil is great for naturalizing and multiplies rapidly. Perfect choice for the garden or containers.
Narcissus 'Pink Charm' (Large-Cupped Daffodil)
Award-winner Narcissus 'Pink Charm' produces exquisite, large flowers, 4 in. across (9cm), with ivory-white petals surrounding a creamy-white cup adorned with a lovely coral band at the rim. Blooming in mid-spring, this romantic-looking Large-Cupped Daffodil is noted for its wonderful ability to produce a second bloom on many stems. Great in pots for the patio or balcony, in a vase or planted in the garden. Excellent as cut flowers!
Narcissus 'Standard Value' (Trumpet Daffodil)
Highly reliable, Narcissus 'Standard Value' is a mid-sized Daffodil featuring bright, golden petals surrounding a lemon-yellow trumpet with a slightly ruffled edge. Blooming in mid to late spring, one flower per stem, it is ideal for naturalizing.
Narcissus 'White Lion' (Double Daffodil)
Multiple award-winning Narcissus 'White Lion' is sweetly fragrant and sturdy with blossoms resembling gardenias! It features long-lasting, double flowers with multiple creamy-white petals surrounding a warm yellow center. Blooming in mid to late spring, this strong and reliable heirloom Daffodil was introduced in the 1940s and is still a favorite.
These hyacinths are good choices for multiple-year flowering when combining with perennials
Hyacinthus orientalis 'Blue Festival' (Dutch Hyacinth)
Extremely fragrant, award-winning Hyacinth 'Blue Festival' is a multi-flowering Hyacinth bearing up to 6 flower clusters per bulb instead of just one. Each flower stalk has fewer florets, but the plant is still very attractive and quite unique. 'Blue Festival' features soft purple-blue flowers with slightly paler edges and blooms for 2-3 weeks in mid-spring. Ideal for pots, containers, or garden beds.
Hyacinthus orientalis 'City of Haarlem' (Dutch Hyacinth)
With its soft primrose yellow color, Hyacinth 'City of Haarlem' brings a cheerful sight to the dull days of late winter! Featuring flowered spikes densely covered with starry, pale yellow florets maturing to ivory, it is strongly fragrant. Rising atop fleshy bright green leaves, this eye-catching hyacinth blooms for 2-3 weeks in mid-spring. Combine with Hyacinth 'Jan Bos' for a striking combination or with 'Blue Jacket' for a pastel scenery.
Hyacinthus orientalis 'Delft Blue' (Dutch Hyacinth)
One of the most fragrant, Hyacinth 'Delft Blue' features densely flowered spikes of soft porcelain blue flowers. Rising above glossy green leaves, this lovely hyacinth blooms for 2-3 weeks in mid-spring. A wonderful addition to pots, great for indoor forcing, it also looks lovely planted in groups or drifts in the border. Plant it where you will be able to enjoy its perfume daily!
Hyacinthus orientalis 'Pink Pearl' (Dutch Hyacinth)
Highly fragrant, award-winning Hyacinth 'Pink Pearl' features dense spikes of fuchsia-purple flowers edged pale pink. Floating atop erect, lance-shaped bright green leaves, this beauty blooms for 3-4 weeks in mid-spring. Plant it where you will be able to enjoy its perfume daily: near a doorway, along a path, near your patio or deck!
Hyacinthus orientalis 'White Festival' (Dutch Hyacinth)
Extremely fragrant, award-winning Hyacinth 'White Festival' is a multi-flowering Hyacinth bearing up to 6 flower clusters per bulb instead of just one. Each flower stalk has fewer florets, but the plant is still very attractive and quite unique.
These special bulbs are good choices for multiple-year flowering when combining with perennials
Alliums (Ornamental Onions)
Alliums are plants of exquisite beauty that deserve a place in perennial gardens. Easy to grow and undemanding, these very ornamental bulbs distinguish themselves by their great diversity in color, inflorescence, flowering height and bloom times. Many species bloom in early summer - just after the spring-flowering period and just before the exuberant full bloom of summer.
Anemone coronaria (Poppy Anemone)
Anemone coronaria are most often found as cut flowers, but these gorgeously colored poppy-like flowers also thrive in the home garden where their broad, bright faces are highly appealing. Their dark-centered, single or double flowers, are available in a fresh array of colors including purple-blue, red, pink or white. They are borne on stiff stems atop clumps of finely divided, ferny leaves. Blooming in mid to late spring, they usually last up to 4 weeks. They attract butterflies and make wonderful cut flowers.
Iris hollandica (Dutch Iris)
While called 'Dutch Iris', this iris never grew wild in the Netherlands. Instead, it is the product of hybridizations carried out by Dutch growers. Tall and slender, it features flowers that are 4 in. wide (10 cm) with flower stalks, surrounded by gray reed-like leaves, that are very sturdy - a quality which makes them quite suitable for use as cut flowers. The color assortment is very wide and includes bicolored varieties.
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Top picture is courtesy of Peter Wiezoreck
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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