10 of Spring's Most Beautiful Blooming Bulbs

Shallot bulbs in a woman's hand

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Few things in nature are as heartening to the winter-weary as the emergence of spring’s first flowering bulbs. After a season of dormancy underground, the earliest of the earnest bunch are so tenacious that not even snow will keep them at bay. As spring marches on, more varieties begin to appear until the ground becomes alive with a riot of color and the ensuing promise of warm days ahead.

While there are countless varieties you may encounter, here are our contenders for most beautiful bulbs on the block.

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What moxie! The snowdrop is one of the first flowers to brave the cold, often emerging before the snow has cleared. The petals of its sweet white flowers have tough pointed tips to help them break through the cold soil and snow. Sadly, some species of snowdrop are threatened in their wild habitats; in most countries it is illegal to collect wild bulbs. So while it's fine to plant them them, don't dig them up.

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Crocus pocus! Another spring bloomer known for its determination, the crocus also braves the snowy ground to break through and offer splashes of purple to an otherwise bleak end-of-winter landscape. This member of the iris family comes from a corm, not a true bulb; even though they are often grouped together in the same family.

One species of the Crocus genus, Crocus sativus, is the flower from which saffron is harvested, one of the most expensive substances in the world.

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Siberian squill

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While the exotic name of this early-blooming bulb suggests its origin might be the wilds of Siberia, it actually is native to other areas of Russia and elsewhere in Eurasia. But we don't love it any less; who can resist that deep royal blue of its inch-wide blooms, urged on by the deeper blue ribbon and color-coordinated anthers? Hello, spring!

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Named for a divine hero of Greek mythology, the hyacinth flower seems both divine and heroic. Prized for their heady aroma and deep candy-colored hues, hyacinths stand apart from other blooming bulbs due to their slightly squat and robust appearance. They are neither dainty little snow flowers nor graceful lithe things, yet they are among the most beautiful blooms spring has to offer.

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Star of Bethlehem

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While it may be true that star of Bethlehem flowers were named after their delicate star shape, it's likely that they garnered such a poetic name to counter their official name, Ornithogalum umbellatum, which sounds more like a clumsy wizard curse than a pretty spring bloom. But nomenclature aside, these are one of the true delights of spring; it's a lovely moment when little stars replace snowflakes on the ground. And fans of Bach Flower Remedies, take note: Star of Bethlehem is one of the 38 flower remedies available, and it's used to calm shock and trauma.

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Few things say "spring" like a troop of pert daffodils standing at attention in a field of new greenery. They may be cliché, but they just can't help but to make people feel happy (unless one accidentally ingests a daffodil bulb, which can be poisonous to humans). Also called narcissus, severeal different daffodil species, subspecies and varieties — with over 25,000 registered cultivars.

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Tulips may be one of the most recognizable harbingers of spring, and certainly one of the most popularly planted, but that doesn't mean they have to be boring. Because they also happen to be a very popular flower for cultivating, there is an ever-expanding list of new and intriguing tulips finding their way into our gardens. In the Fringed Tulip Division alone (like the beauty pictured here, which looks like a flower for Muppets) there are over 150 tulips registered.

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Named in honor of the German physician Friedrich Heinrich Theodor Freese, the delicate, tubular blooms of freesia may win the gold for sweetest-smelling spring flower. With their floral-honey-citrus fragrance, they are powerful enough to perfume an entire garden. Fun fact: In most flowers the white variations are the most fragrant; with freesias, the pink and red varieties have the strongest scent.

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Up to 300 species, many of them natural hybrids, are included in the Iris genus, making spring a vivid and colorful place where irises are concerned. Named after the Greek goddess of the rainbow and messenger of the Gods, the Greeks planted irises on women's graves so that Iris would guide their souls to a peaceful place. Also awesome: The fleur-de-lis, which graces many European coats of arms and is the symbol of the French monarchy, is thought to be a stylized image of the iris.

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Though these flowers lean more toward summer blooming, some do bloom in the spring. While calling any flower "the best one" is like picking a favorite child, we can't help but favor these. Of the many varieties of allium, some grow to an exuberant 4 feet in height and have perfectly round blooms up to 5 inches wide in a jazzy array of blues, purples and pinks. If there were ever real-life flowers that sprang from the imagination of Dr. Seuss, they would be giant allium blooms. Secondly, the Allium genus harbors a secret disguised by their beauty; they are the very plants that give us onions, garlic, chives, leeks and the like. The flower equivalent of beauty and brains ... that's just the best.