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The Secret to Massively Increased Blooms in Same Space! - Flower Bulb Layering

The Secret to Massively Increased Blooms in Same Space! - Flower Bulb Layering

Flower Bulb Layering for 2x - 4x the Blooms! 

Have you ever admired a photo in a magazine or catalog, planted the very same varieties recommended only to have your results turn out a bit less. . .  impressive than your inspiration? I am going to let you in on the secret to getting two to four times the amount of blooms from the same garden space - just like the magazines do! It's all about layering!

What is Flower Bulb Layering?

You can double, triple or even quadruple the number of blooms from the existing space in your garden! But there is no magic fertilizer that gets bulbs and plants to produce that much more. To double your blooms, you must double your planting.

And it is a sad fact that you only have so much space for your garden, whether it is planted in the ground, in containers, or a mix of both. Most gardeners cannot just add on more land - much as we often wish we could! 

When you plant flower bulbs, in the garden bed or in containers, it is always important to plant them at the correct depth for that variety. This ensures they have enough nutrients, support, root room to grow and bloom well and insulation from the varying temperatures throughout the year. But what about the soil above and below the bulbs? This is the garden space you already have that can be planted for more blooms!

Maximize your planting space with flower bulb layering and increase the blooms by 2x - 4x!

secrets of flower bulb layering for more blooms - whiskey barrel illustration

Flower Bulb Layering Like a Lasagna!

The Dutch refer to the layering of flower bulbs in their world renowned gardens as creating a "flower bulb lasagne" - the secret to enormous flower displays in limited space. The process is simple once you know it is safe to do. First, determine what types of bulbs you want to layer. The largest bulbs that should be planted the deepest go in first. Add a couple inches of soil, then plant the next sized bulbs at the next depth level. If you are planting three or four layers, just continue to add soil between the bulb layers as you go.

Planting Depth Chart for Popular Fall Planted Flower Bulbs

Chart showing proper planting depth of most popular fall planted flower bulbs

As roots and sprouting stems and leaves form, they naturally seek open spaces to grow through. The top growth will weave between the bulbs above to find the sunlight and open air above. While some plants will root into a flower bulb to steal its nutrients, there is no need for concern when using this method with different types of bulbs. Flowering bulbs play nicely with other bulbs, so all remain healthy and able to grow and bloom.

Soil Preparation for Flower Bulb Layering

Because you will have many more bulbs growing and using the same resources, it is important that you prepare the soil with care. Be sure to work the soil to the full depth of your planting, breaking up any dense clods and working in organic amendments like dried leaves, peat moss and rotted manure. Also work in bone meal and time-release fertilizer pellets to ensure the nutrition level of the soil is able to support so much blooming.

Coordinated or Sequential Blooming? 

layered flower bulbs tulip Pinocchio and anemone blanda blue 

Flower bulb layering will give you many more blooms per square foot of planting space, either in containers or in the garden bed. But should you aim for coordinated blooms, where all the varieties bloom at the same time? Or is sequential blooming better, where one layer comes into flower after another fades away? The choice is entirely up to you!

The image of the sassy red and white species tulip Pinocchio with anemone blanda blue demonstrates the gorgeous results of bulb layering with coordinated blooms. But sequential blooming can be just as effective. Try layering your daffodil bulbs with daylilies. The daffodils emerge first with their slim foliage and sunny spring blooms.

As the blooms fade, the foliage of the daylily comes through, disguising the fading daffodil, and producing loads of colorful blooms late spring through fall in the same spot. Although daylilies are perennials and not flower bulbs, they do not root into the bulbs to scavenge nutrients, so this powerful planting method is entirely safe. Daffodils and daylilies share common light and water requirements. Just select varieties that are hardy in your climate and provide fertilizing during the active growth and you will enjoy the spectacular blooms year after year!

Another great option for sequential bloom pairing is ixia and hardy (cranesbill) geraniums. The dainty blooms of the ixia sway above the lacy foliage of the hardy geranium for an enchanting display. This combo works for warm climates (zones 7-11) where the ixia are hardy.

layering oriental lily casa blanca with peony victoire dela marne and ornithogalum star of bethlehem

In cold climate gardens, plant a peony with Oriental lilies and ornithogalum Star of Bethlehem. The lilies appreciate the shade cast by the peony foliage on the soil where the bulb is planted, but will bloom well above the peony. The Star of Bethlehem is a first class weaver, and forms starry blooms around the bare "ankles" of the peony. This is a planting recipe for years and years of increasingly beauty and fragrance!

How to Select Varieties for Bulb Layering

Selecting varieties to layer in your planting is about much more than just "these two plants should look good together." It is vital to select varieties that are hardy in your climate and that share the same needs for sun exposure and watering. It just won't work to plant shade loving bulbs with those that need full sun. 

yellow eranthis winter aconite layered with white galanthus snowdrop flowers

Flower bulb layering works best when you select varieties based upon their natures, growth habits, hardiness ratings, and general bloom time. Some of them will bloom in succession while others will have bloom periods that overlap. Your goal is not to control the blooms and force them to begin blooming on the very same day, but rather to let nature take it's course and enjoy them as they unfurl. So choose from the combinations we have shown above, or go play with your own favorites and color schemes.

Ready to Start Planting? 

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secrets of flower bulb layering for 2-4 times the blooms

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  • Kathleen McCarthy
Comments 12
  • Sarah Murphy
    Sarah Murphy

    This article and concept is so great and I can’t wait to try it out! What time of year is best to plant a layered bulb garden? Thank you!

  • William Ng
    William Ng

    What do I do with the bulbs in the pot after spring when the flowers are done? Could I just leave it in the pot for next year?

  • Rachel

    I’m looking for ideas of bulbs to layer for a partially shady spot uin north Georgia. Any suggestions on what to plant together would be appreciated.

  • Maryann

    Thank you for this article! Yes I definitely will be planning a flower bed just for layering!

  • Carol Lyall
    Carol Lyall

    Could you please tell me at what depth daylillys are generally planted?
    I suppose a lot depends on the particular daylily.
    Thank you very much,
    Carol Lyall i

  • Helen  Valenza
    Helen Valenza

    Thanks for the tip on layering. I’ve already planted some bulbs that I ordered from you, but I have two big fancy urns in front of my house that needed something. I’ve been looking for some inexpensive temporary Christmas trees, but I came across some bulbs today at Walmart. They were only 50 cents a bag! Planted them already and look forward to spring!
    Thanks so much for the tip.

  • Vernon Wankerl
    Vernon Wankerl

    I am interested in doing edible landscaping in my front yard. I also am intrigued with this idea of layering. Can you tell how it might work layering flowers with edibles? Or point me in a direction for information/how-to to do this?

  • jp

    I’ve used this technique with your bulbs, and the results were spectacular!

  • Yvette

    This is super! I’m sorry l didn’t see this earlier for fall planting. I just have some iris bulbs left to plant. Hoping not too late. I will have to order for next year and try this in containers as well as the garden.
    Thank you so much

    Yvette ?

  • Barb Ottolino
    Barb Ottolino

    Short of appropriate growing space, I have successfully layered bulbs for years, in ground and in containers. I plant late tulips VERY deep – more than 12", top them with early tulips, then very early minor bulbs and late ones like Muscari. You must FEED such a planting heavily. Deeply planted tulips bloom for more years and are safe from critters. Narcissus planted above tulips discourage varmints. I plant rows of bulbs about 8" wide, leaving an 8" wide unplanted area on either side of bulbs where tall annuals for cutting can be planted so their foliage hides ripening bulb foliage. I happen to have wonderful soil, so digging is not a problem for me (I am 70). My inspiration for alternating rows of bulbs and annuals for cutting comes from Sarah Raven’s books “The cutting Garden” and “Grow your own cut flowers”. I can walk on the unplanted rows (which will grow annuals later in the season) in order to cut bulb blooms. Because my 8" bulb rows are planted 3 bulbs wide, I get a very full floral display and am able to cut more than 2/3 of the blooms in a given are a of a row and still have enough remaining blooms for a great display.
    I specialize in fragrant and naturalizing bulbs. Many heirlooms are very inexpensive and will multiply rapidly in a few years. When I replant an area, I know exactly where to dig (using Sarah Raven’s method) so can lift the multiplied daffodils without injury when tulips begin to decline and need replacing, every 5-7 years. Now my narcissus are almost free, so I invest my savings in extravagantly beautiful tulips, lilies, etc. I lecture and offer floral workshops, providing my own flowers, so am not your average gardener, but I once was. Learning to grow lots of plants on a tiny space opened up a new career for me, and because I have the best sun exposures near the street, everyone gets to enjoy the fragrance and the changing display.
    I thank this site for encouraging and educating customers about the advantages of layered and sequential planting. Little SPECIFIC information is commonly available about these practices.

  • Barbara  Valentino
    Barbara Valentino

    After being gone six weeks I found your boule had arrived when I returned two types were missing: 32710-10 hyacinth fragrant mix and31650-10 narcissus fragrant rose. The order number is 14280. How can I have those shipped or refunded? Thank you

  • Coreen

    When you order daffodils how many do you get is that one Daffadil deal bulb or is there a few bulbs in each order that you make

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