The best spring-flowering bulbs to plant in autumn

The best spring-flowering bulbs to plant in autumn

As the gentle breezes of autumn sweep across the UK, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about the blooms that will adorn your garden in spring. Planting spring-flowering bulbs during autumn ensures that your garden will burst into life when warmer days arrive. With a plethora of choices available, it can be a lovely yet challenging task to decide which bulbs to plant. Here’s an extensive guide to the best spring-flowering bulbs to plant in autumn in the UK, ensuring a vibrant and colourful garden.

Tulip bulbs

Tulips are synonymous with spring, offering an astonishing palette of colours and shapes. Plant tulip bulbs in autumn, ideally in October, to give them enough chilling time to bloom beautifully in spring. Ensure they are placed in well-drained soil with ample sunlight. Varieties such as Tulip 'Queen of Night' and Tulip 'Angelique' can add elegance and sophistication to your garden with their deep hues and delicate forms.

Daffodil or Narcissus bulbs

Daffodils, quintessential British spring flowers, symbolise rebirth and new beginnings. Narcissus bulbs should be planted in autumn, around September or October, 15cm deep and 10cm apart ― ensuring they have sufficient space to grow. Varieties like Narcissus 'Tête-à-Tête' for its dainty, compact size and Narcissus 'Dutch Master' for its grand, golden blooms are favourites among gardeners. Their vivid yellow flowers are often the first to appear, heralding the coming of the warmer months.

Allium bulbs

Known for their striking spherical flower heads, alliums (or ornamental onions) add a unique architectural element to any garden. Allium bulbs should be planted in autumn in well-drained soil, about 10-15cm deep. Popular varieties include Allium 'Purple Sensation' with its eye-catching purple globes and Allium 'Globemaster', which features larger-than-life blooms. These flowers are not only attractive to humans but also to bees, making them excellent for pollinator-friendly gardens.

Crocus bulbs

Crocuses are among the earliest bloomers of spring in the UK, often peeking through the snow. These petite flowers are best planted in drifts to create a naturalistic effect. Crocus bulbs should be planted in well-drained soil, around 10cm deep and spaced 5-7cm apart. Varieties like Crocus 'Ruby Giant' and Crocus 'Jeanne d’Arc' are known for their vivid colours and can brighten up the dull days at the tail end of winter.

Hyacinth bulbs

Hyacinths are celebrated for their intoxicating fragrance and dense spikes of flowers. Plant hyacinth bulbs in autumn, around 10-15cm deep and 10cm apart, in well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. Varieties such as Hyacinth 'Blue Star' and Hyacinth 'Pink Pearl' provide a stunning range of blues, pinks, and whites that can fill the air with their delightful aroma.

Fritillaria bulbs

Fritillarias are known for their exotic, bell-shaped flowers that add a touch of the unusual to your spring garden. In the UK, plant fritillaria bulbs in a sunny or partially shaded spot with well-drained soil, about 10-20cm deep depending on the variety. The striking crown imperials and the charming snake’s head fritillaries are particularly popular for their unique appearances.

Muscari bulbs

Muscari, commonly known as grape hyacinths, are characterised by their clusters of small, blue, urn-shaped flowers. Muscari bulbs should be planted in autumn, around 10cm deep and 5cm apart, in well-drained soil. Muscari armeniacum is highly favoured for creating a sea of blue blossoms, often used to edge borders or to fill gaps between larger plants.

Camassia bulbs

Camassias or wild hyacinths are native to North America but have found a loving home in UK gardens thanks to their star-shaped flowers and strong vertical presence. Plant Camassia bulbs in autumn in moist, fertile soil, around 10cm deep and spaced 10-15cm apart. Varieties such as Camassia leichtlinii boast tall spikes of blue, white, or purple flowers that can add an elegant charm to your garden.

Anemone bulbs

Anemones, often referred to as windflowers, are cherished for their vibrant colours and daisy-like blooms. Plant Anemone bulbs in autumn, about 5cm deep and 15-20cm apart, in well-drained soil. Varieties like Anemone blanda and Anemone coronaria can bring a burst of blue, pink, and red hues to large swathes of your garden, creating a carpet of colour.

Ranunculus bulbs

Ranunculus, also known as Persian buttercups, are renowned for their layers of paper-thin petals that resemble miniature roses. Ranunculus bulbs should be planted in autumn in well-drained soil, around 5cm deep and spaced 10-15cm apart. Popular varieties offer an array of colours including reds, pinks, and yellows, providing a vibrant, almost painterly effect in your garden beds or containers.

Scilla bulbs

Scilla, commonly known as squill, are small but mighty contributors to the spring floral display. Plant Scilla bulbs in autumn, around 10cm deep and 5-10cm apart in well-drained soil. Varieties like Scilla siberica and Scilla peruviana herald spring with clusters of blue or purple star-shaped flowers. In the United Kingdom, they are ideal for naturalising in lawns and under trees, where their early blooms can make a striking impact.

Eranthis bulbs

Eranthis, or winter aconites, are among the earliest bloomers, often appearing as early as late winter. These cheerful, yellow, poppy-like flowers can be planted in autumn in partially shaded, well-drained areas. Plant the Eranthis bulbs about 5cm deep and 5cm apart. Varieties such as Eranthis hyemalis are particularly beloved for creating a golden carpet that can bring a burst of sunshine to those dreary, cold days. Their bright yellow blooms are a welcome sight, often the first hint that spring is just around the corner.

Puschkinia bulbs

Puschkinia, also known as Russian snowdrops or striped squill, produces clusters of delicate, pale blue flowers striped with darker blue lines, adding a touch of subtle elegance to your garden. Plant Puschkinia bulbs in autumn, around 10cm deep and 5-10cm apart in well-drained soil. The variety Puschkinia libanotica is a popular choice, known for its charming, starry flowers and its ability to naturalise well, creating delightful drifts of blue and white.


By planting these spring-flowering bulbs in autumn, you are setting the stage for a stunning UK flower bulbs display that will burst into life as soon as the first hints of spring arrive. Each of these bulbs has its unique charm and can be used to create varied and vibrant garden themes. From the elegant tulips and the cheerful daffodils to the exotic fritillarias and the delicate puschkinias, there's a bulb suited for every gardener's taste.

When planting bulbs, remember to follow general guidelines such as ensuring well-drained soil, appropriate depth, and adequate spacing. Using a good quality bulb compost can also improve the growth and bloom quality. Water the bulbs well after planting and apply a layer of mulch to provide insulation during the colder months.

As you plan and plant your autumn bulbs, consider not only the colours and sizes of the blooms but also their blooming times. By selecting a variety of early, mid, and late-spring flowering bulbs, you can enjoy a continuous display of beauty that evolves over the season, ensuring that something new and lovely is always in bloom.

In summary, the best spring-flowering bulbs to plant in autumn in the UK include:

  • Tulip bulbs, with their vast array of colours and forms;

  • Daffodil bulbs, bright and cheerful, early spring bloomers;

  • Allium bulbs, adding architectural elegance with their spherical flowers;

  • Crocus bulbs, small but vibrant, often the first to bloom;

  • Hyacinth bulbs, famed for their fragrance and dense flower spikes;

  • Fritillaria bulbs, exotic, unique bell-shaped flowers;

  • Muscari bulbs, delightful clusters of blue blooms;

  • Camassia bulbs, majestic, star-shaped flowers with tall spikes;

  • Anemone bulbs, vibrant, daisy-like blooms that create a colourful carpet;

  • Ranunculus bulbs, multi-petaled, rose-like flowers in a dazzling array of colours;

  • Scilla bulbs, petite, star-shaped flowers ideal for naturalising;

  • Eranthis bulbs, early bloomers that bring a touch of gold to late winter;

  • Puschkinia bulbs, subtly striped, pale blue flowers that add elegance to your garden.

By choosing and planting flower bulbs in the United Kingdom in autumn, you ensure a garden that is full of life, colour, and joy come spring. Happy planting and here's to a beautiful, blooming garden!


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