Earliest-blooming bulbs

The first flowering bulbs to poke up through the fallen leaves and snow, January through March.

Credit: Barbra Fairclough, International Bloembollen Centrum Hillegom, Holland

The first flowering bulbs to poke up through the fallen leaves and snow, January through March

January is the time to take a look at your neighbour’s garden and make note of the earliest blooms. This will serve as your shopping list for September when the spring-blooming bulbs are available in your local garden centre.

Where to plant

Early-blooming spring bulbs are best planted under large deciduous trees that leaf out later in the spring. These bulbs prosper in the light of late-winter when the trees are barren. After they leaf in, the ground is shaded from the extremes of summer, keeping the bulbs content during the dormant months. These bulbs will all naturalize quite nicely.

To get the most enjoyment from them, plant them where they are visible from inside the house or near a pathway. Or plant them in a container that can be moved to wherever you can see it from inside during the colder months.

What to plant

Galanthus nivalis (snowdrops) and Crocus chrysanthus will be among the first blooms you see.

Eranthis hyemalis (winter aconite) can be seen poking through the snow when it first blooms. A ruffle of green dissected leaves skirts this unusual, bright-yellow, cup-shaped flower. This little wonder is a showy prelude to what lies ahead.

Leucojum aestivum (summer snowflake) is also an early bloomer that comes along a little later than the snowdrops, but it is often confused with them. The summer snowflake has thicker strap-like leaves, distinctive green-tipped petals, and it grows a bit taller than the snowdrop.

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