Are All Flower Bulbs Perennials? A Simple Answer

If you’re a gardener, you know some of your bulb flowers have the ability to return year after year, giving them a lasting presence in your garden. But can you count on all flowers that grow from bulbs to follow this perennial growing pattern?

All flower bulbs have the potential to be perennials, but they may not always grow back year after year. Flowers that grow from bulbs will grow back the next season, as long as they do so under the right conditions.

Want to have a better understanding of how flower bulbs work and how to encourage your flowers to return season after season? I’ll cover both of those (and more) below — specifically, I’ll give you a few examples of some of the most popular types of flower bulbs you can incorporate into your gardening.

How Flower Bulbs Work

Think of a flower bulb as something like a battery. When winter approaches, the plant needs to conserve energy to survive the extreme cold. That energy is stored in the bulb at its base. Once the weather warms up and spring comes around, the plant uses that stored energy to grow back, and the cycle repeats year after year.

Because the bulb is so crucial to the plant’s long-term health, it’s important to choose the biggest and healthiest bulbs when planting your flowers. This gives the plant a strong base to store its nutrients so it can continue growing in your garden for seasons to come.

For a more complete guide on how flower bulbs work and the different parts of a bulb, check out this article from the University of Illinois. The better you understand the processes behind your plants’ growth, the more success you’ll have as a gardener.

How To Encourage Flower Bulbs To Grow Back

If you want to enjoy the beauty of your flowers for as long as possible, you need to provide the right conditions to encourage their growth. Follow the tips below to give your flower bulbs the best chance at growing back perennially.

Store Your Bulbs in a Cool, Dry Place

Flower bulbs need a chill period — a period of dormancy during the cold but not overly-freezing temperatures of the fall months — to grow successfully. That’s why flower bulbs are often planted in the fall, so they have enough time to store energy during the winter and grow during the spring.

To encourage your bulbs to grow back strong, give them this chill period by storing them in a cool, dry place. Depending on the climate in your area, it may be best to put the bulbs in a refrigerator for this period. Around 40 °F (4.4 °C) is the ideal temperature to store bulbs during their chill period. And depending on the type of bulb you have, you may have to keep your bulbs for up to eight weeks.

Keep Your Soil Well-Drained

All plants need water to grow. However, overwatering your flower bulbs can be harmful to them and prevent them from growing back strong. If the soil a bulb is growing in becomes saturated with water, it creates the conditions for molding or root rot to occur. Either of these could prevent the flowers from returning in the next season.

To avoid this problem, plant flower bulbs in soil that has a loosely-packed texture. This will help the water pass through the soil instead of lingering and damaging the bulb. If you don’t have quality soil available for your bulbs, you can improve the drainage of your existing soil by adding a layer of sand or grit where you’re planting your bulbs.

Also, research the amount of water your specific flower bulb should have. What’s “just right” for one species may be too much for another.  

If you notice small signs of root rot, trim away the affected parts as soon as you can. Otherwise, the rot will spread to the other parts of the plant, and you may end up having to throw away the plant, buy a new pot, and plant anew. That shouldn’t be an issue if you’re dealing with only one plant, but if you’re dealing with an entire row — well, you can see why this would be a problem. 

Trim Away Old Growth

Plants need to use energy to create new growth. Every growth of stems, leaves, flowers, or other parts of your plant uses up that energy. Because these growths draw energy away from the flower bulb, old growth could prevent the plant from storing enough energy to return the following season.

To keep your flowers from suffering this problem, prune the plants regularly as they complete their life cycle. Clipping away old leaves and wilted flowers will help the plant use its energy more efficiently. However, you should wait until the flowers are completely wilted before trimming them away, as the plant uses them to gather energy from the sun.

Fertilize Plants in Fall and Spring

If you want to keep your flowers returning year after year, helping them out with extra nutrients can be beneficial. A water-soluble fertilizer will give your plants the extra boost of nutrients they need to return with full, beautiful flowers.

For best results, apply fertilizer throughout your plant’s life cycle. Start by adding fertilizer to the bulbs in the fall to help them build up energy for the following spring. Once the bulbs start to grow back, encourage that new growth with another application of fertilizer.

Examples of Flowers That Grow From Bulbs

Want ideas for flower bulbs you can add to your garden? Below are some examples of this type of flower you can add to your garden as perennials. While this list covers the ‘big four’ of the most well-known flower bulbs, there are plenty of other plants to consider.


One of the most iconic flowers out there, tulips have an instantly recognizable shape to their blooms. This flower comes in different subtypes, each with its unique coloration that gives them a distinctive look. Some of these have blooms that remain for several weeks, making them a lasting presence you can enjoy for longer than many other flowers. For more information on growing tulip bulbs, see my other article: Will Small Tulip Bulbs Still Grow?


The large, bowl-like flowers of the crocus add a touch of flair to any landscape. With the right care, this flower bulb can continue growing back year after year to give you something to look forward to every time spring rolls around. If you give them the right conditions, these hardy and long-lasting flowers will grace your garden with their presence for years to come.


Also known as narcissa, daffodils are a beautiful early-spring flower. Their characteristic bright-yellow blooms add an attractive splash of color that instantly grabs the attention of anyone who looks at them. These flowers are also quite fragrant, adding a beautiful aroma to your garden.


Another spring-blooming flower bulb, hyacinths show off an array of vibrant colors that make them one of the most aesthetically-pleasing flowers. They’re known to be easy to grow, making them a perfect choice for gardeners of all skill levels. The subtypes of this flower come in different colors, including white, blue, lavender, and cream.


All flower bulbs have the potential to grow perennially. Plants use these bulbs to conserve energy through the winter so they’re ready to grow full and strong once spring returns. However, certain conditions may prevent the flower from growing back the following year.

To give your bulbs the best chance of returning in the following spring, make sure to give them the right conditions. The bulbs should have an adequate chill time, and be planted in well-draining soil. Pruning your plants correctly and giving them the right nutrients also helps.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

Recent Posts