Planting season for spring-flowering bulbs in the Pacific Northwest is early September through December. There are literally hundreds of places to buy bulbs including many good on line and catalog sources. Avoid “bargain” bulbs, which are often disappointingly small. I prefer to purchase bulbs locally where I can see the size and quality of bulbs before I buy. Although you may find a larger selection of bulbs on line, we have several full service nurseries and garden stores with large bulb selections.
I usually try some new kinds and varieties of bulbs every year. However, I get the most satisfaction from the good old standard varieties. Daffodils are definitely the most dependable and satisfying bulbs to plant. They bloom longer than any other spring bulb. They consistently live over from year to year. They multiply so they get more colorful each year. Soil pests like moles do not like daffodils.
Daffodils come in a wide range of types. I have recently planted a lot of miniature varieties where they can be viewed close-up. Daffodils are the best choice to plant in areas where they can naturalize. They will come up through ground cover and grass. One of the most attractive plantings of daffodils I have seen was a bed which was covered with ajuga. The purplish-bronze leaves were a striking combination with the yellow daffodils. Holes can be dug between ground cover plants to insert individual bulbs.
Tulips are the best second choice. They come in a wide range of colors and types. The easiest to grow are the single, tall late spring bloomers. The Emperor varieties are good for early spring bloom. I prefer to plant a single color or 2 color mixture. A cluster of a dozen bulbs or more is needed for best effect.
Crocus is the best choice for extra early bloom. They need to be planted where they can be viewed close-up. Scatter them through a rock garden or perennial flower bed for early color.
Grape hyacinths are widely used as a front border for other bulbs. Hyacinths are the queens of bulbs because of their wonderful fragrance. Plant them near an entry or a window where you can enjoy the fragrance.
I also plant bulbs in beds where I plant my annual flowers. I plant bulbs between annual flowers in the fall and plant annuals again in the spring between the bulbs after they are through blooming.
Fall is also a good time to plant hardy Asiatic and Oriental Lilies. They will be better established for full bloom next summer. Allium, Anemone, and Ranunculus bulbs can also be planted in the fall for late spring and early summer bloom.