White 'Purissima' tulips planted with red primulas

What to plant with spring bulbs

Planting bulbs with other plants can really enhance their beauty. Browse our favourite planting combinations.

Growing bulbs is one of the easiest ways to give your garden a colour boost in spring. No matter what size your space – or how full it may be – there’s always room for a few bulbs, whether squeezed in between other plants or in a pot.

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To help you put on a dazzling show next spring and beyond, we’ve put together stylish combinations of bulbs with complementary plants. If you can’t find the exact varieties we’ve used, look for similar colours and let your imagination run wild.

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Follow our ideas and enjoy great displays around your garden in spring.

No matter what size your space - or how full it may be – there's always room for a few bulbs.

Snowdrop and aconite

The bulbs of snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, and winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis, are best planted in drifts beneath deciduous shrubs and trees. Enrich the soil with compost before planting.

At its best: January to February

A clump of white snowdrops with yellow winter aconites
A clump of white snowdrops with yellow winter aconites

Cyclamen and hellebore

Cyclamen persicum ‘Miracle Deep Rose’ creates a swathe of pink beneath the dusky Helleborus atrorubens. This mix is perfect in the shade below deciduous trees or next to a wall.

At its best: Feb-Mar

Pink and white cyclamen beneath dusky hellebores
Pink and white cyclamen beneath dusky hellebores

Tulip and primula

The creamy white flowers of the early Tulipa ‘Purissima’, look striking above the scarlet of low-cost winter bedding, primula. A good combination for a container but also works in the ground.

At its best: March to April

White 'Purissima' tulips above red primulas
White ‘Purissima’ tulips above red primulas

Grape hyacinth and ipheion

In this combination the deep blue of the Muscari armeniacum complements the sky blue of Ipheion ‘Rolf Fiedler’. Both bulbs like a sheltered site that’s very sunny in summer.

At its best: March to April

Deep-blue muscari with complementary sky-blue ipheion
Deep-blue muscari with complementary sky-blue ipheion

Eremurus and thapsia

An unusual but striking mix of stately spikes and starburst flowerheads that will light up the back of a border. Give these plants a sunny, well-drained spot. Wear gloves to plant the thapsia as the roots are poisonous and can irritate skin.

At its best: June

Beige eremurus spires with starburst yellow thapsia
Beige eremurus spires with starburst yellow thapsia

Trillium and dog’s tooth violet

The wine-red Trillium sessile and pastel pink dog’s tooth violet, Erythronium revolutum, are offset by flecked and marbled leaves. Both plants like rich, moist soil, so avoid the base of thirsty trees and shrubs.

At its best: April

Wine-red trilliums and pastel-pink dog's tooth violets, both with marbled leaves
Wine-red trilliums and pastel-pink dog’s tooth violets, both with marbled leaves

Anemone and euphorbia

The red stems and lime green flowers of Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Efanthia’ set off the starry blooms of Anemone blanda. Undisturbed, the anemones will spread to form a carpet of white.

At its best: April

Starry, white anemone blooms with red stems and lime green flowers of euphorbia
Starry, white anemone blooms with red stems and lime green flowers of euphorbia

Camassia and euphorbia

The yellow of the Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae contrasts with the lavender blue of the Camassia leichtlinii Caerulea Group. Both plants love heavy, moist soil.

At its best: May

Pale-blue camassia with lime green euphorbia
Pale-blue camassia with lime green euphorbia

Tulips and daffodils

The mix of flower shapes and pale yellows in this combination works beautifully. The narcissi begin to bloom in March while the tulips continue the display until May. Leave the foliage to die back naturally.

At its best: April

Pale-yellow tulips and daffodils planted together
Pale-yellow tulips and daffodils planted together

Bronze fennel and tulips

This simple, contemporary mix of ruby-red tulip bowls and clouds of feathery bronze. Perfect for a sunny spot. The tulips will bloom throughout April to be replaced by the acid-yellow flowers of the fennel in midsummer.

At its best: April

Feathery bronze fennel foliage with ruby-red tulips
Feathery bronze fennel foliage with ruby-red tulips

Hyacinths, muscari and violas

This heady blend of indigo, purple and blue creates an arresting spring display for the front of a sunny border. Deadhead the violas regularly and they’ll flower continuously.

At its best: March to April

Purple hyacinth and violas with blue muscari, in a wicker container
Purple hyacinth and violas with blue muscari, in a wicker container

Snowdrops, primulas and cyclamen

Just three, unassuming plants, the snowdrop, primula and cyclamen, are enough to signal the start of a new season – and early bees will love them.

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At its peak: February

Clumps of snowdrops, primulas and cyclamen growing together on mossy ground
Clumps of snowdrops, primulas and cyclamen growing together on mossy ground

Planning and planting

Autumn is the ideal time to start planning and planting for next spring. Identify the sections of your garden that could do with a colour boost and then all you have to do is pick a suitable planting combination to enjoy bulb-filled borders.

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