The beauty of spring bulbs isn't just in the flowers that bloom. They're also about the easiest kind of garden you can grow. Dig a hole, sprinkle in some fertilizer, put them in the ground now (and up until early December in warm Southern climates), add water, and pretty much forget about them. They'll start establishing roots in fall's cool, moist soil, then lie dormant over the winter until spring's warmer temperatures and frequent rains prompt them to sprout.
Crocus, daffodils, and hyacinth are favorites for spring color, with dozens of varieties that will come back year after year (if you don't cut back the fading foliage they feed on after they've bloomed.) These naturalizing bulbs will even multiply and spread as time goes by.
Tulips are another classic, but don't rebloom as reliably. "I treat tulips like annuals and replenish them each year," says Roger Cook, This Old House landscape contractor. They're also a favorite of foraging wildlife. "Deer, rabbits, and squirrels treat tulip bulbs like caviar," says Roger. "If you've got a critter problem, stick to daffodils." Read on for his foolproof planting tips and a container trick that'll yield weeks of color.
How to Buy the Best Bulbs
Look for ones that are weighty, firm, and mold-free. Then store them in a cool, dry place
until ready for planting.